Barkley, Colangelo reach truce
The Arizona Republic
March 17, 2003
The Hatfield and McCoy of the NBA have declared a truce.
Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo and his controversial former star, Charles Barkley, met Monday and -- in Colangelo's words -- "buried the past."
It brings to an end a feud that has simmered since the end of the 1995-96 season when Barkley ripped the organization in an NBC interview during the NBA Finals, accusing the Suns of shopping him around the league "like a piece of meat."
That August, Barkley was traded to the Houston Rockets, and he had been at war with the team since then, often taking shots from his position as a studio analyst for Turner Sports' NBA broadcasts.
But in October, Barkley for the first time extended an olive branch, saying he would like to be around the team and hoped he'd get a chance to help young players like Amare Stoudemire and Alton Ford.
Then when Dan Majerle was inducted into the club's Ring of Honor last week, Colangelo called Barkley to invite him to the ceremony. Barkley attended and left a message thanking Colangelo for the invitation. He also said he wanted to sit down and talk.
Colangelo was reluctant to provide many details when word of the conversation leaked Monday because Barkley was headed to Alabama to tend to his ill brother.
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"Charles said it has been a burden on his heart for some time, and he really missed the feeling of being welcome and comfortable here. He wants to come to games, see the fans and feel comfortable about doing it."
Colangelo said he clarified to Barkley that the team never would have denied him tickets. Barkley said last week he asked to buy two courtside seats but didn't follow through because he didn't think he was welcome.
Former teammate Danny Ainge joked last week that he didn't believe Suns President Bryan Colangelo would have done such a thing.
"I know Bryan Colangelo, and he'd take money from the devil," Ainge cracked.
Jerry Colangelo said there was a miscommunication and that there was no intent by the team to turn Barkley away.
And Rick Welts, the club's chief operating officer, said last week that the most common questions the club gets from its season ticket holders is when Barkley and Colangelo will settle their difference and if Barkley will be included in the Ring of Honor.
Ironically, it was 10 years ago that the Suns and Barkley were making a magical run to the NBA Finals.
"This was something that had to take place," Colangelo said of the meeting. "I think we both feel a lot better about things now."
Barkley could not be reached for comment late Monday.
He is expected to attend a game later this week, possibly when his friend Michael Jordan makes his final appearance at America West Arena Friday night with the Washington Wizards.
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