On this day in 1984, Charles Barkley made his debut for the Philadelphia 76ers at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 76ers won 111-101. The legendary power forward was one of the most memorable players in the league. Known for his outspoken personality, Barkley was popular with both fans and media. On the court, he was nicknamed “The Round Mound of Rebound,” Barkley’s smaller stature and overweight frame didn’t stop him from becoming an elite rebounder in the league. Barkley wasn’t scouted in high school and was only noticed by chance. An assistant to Auburn University’s head coach, Sonny Smith, was at a game, scouting another player, and reported seeing “a fat guy… who can play like the wind.”
Barkley played 16 seasons in the NBA and led the Phoenix Suns to the NBA finals in 1993. Barkley averaged 27.3 points, 13.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game throughout the championship series, but fell to the Chicago Bulls 4-2. His accolades include NBA MVP, NBA Rebounding Leader, 11x All-NBA Team selections, 2x Olympic Gold Medalist, and 11x All-Star. Barkley was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and his no.34 was retired by the Philadelphia 76ers and the Phoenix Suns.