It was only fitting that Charles Barkley's career ended where it began. In a Dec. 8 game, Barkley was trying to block a shot by the Philadelphia 76ers' Tyrone Hill. He hit the floor hard on the way down, rupturing a tendon in his left knee. Although Barkley had previously announced that the 1999-00 season would be his last, the injury brought a premature end to one of the most colorful careers in NBA history.

Barkley, 36, is as well known for his mouth as well as his considerable basketball skills. And Barkley remained true to his reputation, even after the untimely end to his career.

"Just what America needs," he told reporters as he rode off on a golf cart after a postgame press conference where he discussed the injury and his career, "One more unemployed black man."

Barkley has never been at a loss for words. He has always been a sportswriter's dream, filling up notebooks with outlandish quotes. His proclivity for telling people exactly what he was thinking often landed him in hot water, but he never shied away from speaking his mind. It hasn't been just his mouth that has gotten him into trouble, among the most notorious incidents include accidentally spitting on a child when he was aiming for a heckler, and throwing a man through a plate glass window in a bar fight.

Even those incidents don't overshadow Barkley's good side. By the end of his career, he became somewhat of an ambassador for the game. He has freely signed autographs, even while on the bench after the injury. He's been known to frequently give shoes and other pieces of memorabilia to children. Barkley also chastised younger players for not respecting athletes who came before them, players like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, who helped make it possible for others to earn millions playing in the NBA.

Few could have predicted the type of success Barkley would enjoy in the NBA. When he was selected with the fifth pick of the 1984 draft by the 76ers, he was known as the "Round Mound of Rebound." It was a reference not only to his ability on the boards, but also to his weight.

But Barkley redefined the power forward position during a 16-year career spent with the 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets. He was listed at 6-foot-6, but he's closer to 6-foot-4. Still, he dominated his opponents. Only once did he average less than 10 rebounds per game in a season, and that came in his rookie year. Barkley did much more than rebound, also proving to be a capable scorer, averaging 22.2 points per game. He's one of just three players in NBA history with 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists in his career. Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the only others. He also helped the United States win two Olympic gold medals and was the NBA MVP in 1992-93 while with the Suns.

The only knock on Barkley was that he never won an NBA title. He made one trip to the NBA finals, losing to close friend Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, but he says he has no regrets. Instead, he explains that he focuses on the positives.

"I don't foresee the championship making my life any better," he told reporters. "I don't know how my life could get any better. I tell you, my life has been a blast."

And fans certainly have enjoyed the ride.

More...

CHARLES BARKLEY:
Basketball Sportscards Highlights
No.
Description
NM MT8
MT9
GMT10

1986-87 FLEER

7
Charles Barkley (R)
50
110
1,300+
Notable Comparisons:
26
Clyde Drexler (R)
30-
75
700+
32
Patrick Ewing (R)
40
95
950+
57
Michael Jordan (R)
1,100
2,350
25,000+
68
Karl Malone (R)
60-
175
1,600+
82
Kakeem Olajuwon (R)
55
120
1,000+
No.
Description
NM MT8
MT9
GMT10
1987-88 FLEER
 
9
Charles Barkley
15
40
250+
Notable Comparisons:
1
Kareem Abdul Jabbar (HOF)
10
25
150+
11
Larry Bird (HOF)
20
55
300+
30
Clyde Drexler
10
25
135
35
Julius Erving (HOF)
10
25
175+
37
Patrick Ewing
12
27
175+
56
Magic Johnson
12-
35-
240+
68
Karl Malone
20
45
275
80
Hakeem Olajuwon
15
40
225+
106
Isiah Thomas
5
20
110
No.
Description
NM MT8
MT9
GMT10
1987-88 FLEER STICKERS
 
6
Charles Barkley
8
45+
350+
Notable Comparisons:
1
Magic Johnson
8
50+
450+
2
Michael Jordan
80+
1,000+
10,000+
3
Hakeem Olajuwon
7-
40+
300+
4
Larry Bird
12+
65+
600+
8
Kareem Abdul Jabbar (HOF)
7
40
250
No.
Description
NM MT8
MT9
GMT10
1988-89 FLEER
 
85
Charles Barkley
7
16
100+
129
Charles Barkley All Star
4
15
100
Notable Comparisons:
9
Larry Bird (HOF)
10
25
150+
17
Michael Jordan
45
110+
1,750+
20
Scottie Pippen (R)
25-
55-
500
43
Dennis Rodman (R)
25
45
300
53
Hakeem Olajuwon
8
18
125+
57
Reggie Miller (R)
20
50-
350
64
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (HOF)
7
15
90
67
Magic Johnson
12
22
125+
80
Patrick Ewing
6
15
100+
92
Clyde Drexler
6
13
75+
114
Karl Malone
8
20
125+
115
John Stockton (R)
20
42+
300+
120
Michael Jordan All Star
25
80+
1,500+
123
Magic Johnson All Star
7
20+
125+
124
Larry Bird All Star (HOF)
8
25+
150+
126
Hakeem Olajuwon All Star
4
15
100
127
John Stockton All Star
4
15
100

* Source: February 2000 Sportscard Market Report (SMR).

* * Don't forget to check the March 2000 Sportscard Market Report (SMR) for updated market values of these and other cards. For more information, go to the Collectors Club page at Collectors Universe.