One thing that people may not know is that Barkley almost became a Detroit Piston early in his career. Who knows what could have happened if he played in the Motor City?
A look at Charles Barkley’s Hall of Fame career
After playing at Auburn University for three years, where he became a dominant player, Barkley decided to enter the NBA draft. The Philadelphia 76ers selected him with the fifth pick in the 1984 NBA draft. As a rookie, Barkley joined a 76ers team that played in the 1983 NBA championship and had a veteran team with players like Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, and Moses Malone. Coming into the league, Barkley struggled with his weight. He learned to manage his weight and condition himself the right way before games. As a rookie, he averaged 14 points and 8.6 rebounds. His performance allowed him to make the All-Rookie Team.
During his time in Philadelphia, Barkley improved his game and became a top player on the team. In his third year, he led the league in rebounds per game, averaging 14.6 during the 1986-87 season. The next season he averaged a career-high in points with 28.3 per game and made his second consecutive All-Star appearance. Barkley was not the tallest big man at 6-foot-6, but he used his size and athletic ability to become a dominant player inside the paint.
After spending his first eight years in Philadelphia, the 76ers traded Barkley to the Phoenix Suns. His success continued playing out west. In his first game with the Suns during the 1992-93 season, he nearly recorded a triple-double finishing with 37 points, 21 rebounds, and eight assists in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Suns finished with a 62-20 record that season, which was the best in the league. Barkley won the NBA MVP award in 1993 after averaging 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game. The Suns advanced to the NBA Finals and lost 4-2 to the Chicago Bulls. Barkley spent four seasons in Phoenix and finished his career with the Houston Rockets. He finished his career averaging 22.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists.
Charles Barkley’s career after playing
Barkley put together a memorable career during his time in the NBA. During the NBA’s 50th Anniversary, he was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. He is a two-time inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Barkley was inducted in 2006 as an individual and in 2010 as a member of the 1992 Olympic ‘Dream Team.’ After his playing career finished, he continued to be involved in the game.
Barkley became an NBA analyst after he retired. He currently works with Turner Network Television with Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson. As an analyst, Barkley brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. His personality stands out as well, and at times there are some things that come out of his mouth that people may not agree with.
Charles Barkley could have played for the Detroit Pistons early in his career
The Detroit Pistons had thoughts of trading for a young Barkley in 1987. At the time, Barkley started to become one of the league’s top players. In an article from the Chicago Tribune back in May of 1987, the following was said: “Trade rumors circulating around the league have the Pistons considering packaging John Salley, free-agent guard Vinnie Johnson and a No. 1 draft choice for Philadelphia`s Charles Barkley.”
If that trade did end up going through, Barkley’s physical toughness would have fit right in with the Pistons. Maybe Barkley could have won a championship with the Pistons, who knows. But the fact that the Pistons entertained the thought of trading for Barkley lets you know how much teams valued Barkley as a player.