Wayman Tisdale on the Chuckster
On Saturday, March 20, Charles Barkley will become the 10th member of the Suns' Ring of Honor when his No. 34 is retired during halftime of the Suns-Bucks game. In honor of the big event, Suns.com is turning the tables on the always-opinionated personality, and asking some of his former teammates, coaches and opponents for their opinions and stories of Sir Charles.
Wayman Tisdale spends more time these days playing music than he does playing basketball. The former Suns forward played in Phoenix for three seasons, the first two with Barkley and took time out of recording his latest album to share with Suns.com some his favorite memories of suiting up with the Chuckster.
Suns.com: What was your opinion of Barkley before you became teammates?
Wayman Tisdale: He was larger than life. He was on top of the world. I was in awe because of him being able to accomplish so much and being undersized. He amazed me when I got to play with him in the stuff that he could do.
We battled since day one in the league. We played the same position and I had to guard him, he had to guard me. I have the utmost respect for that guy. He came with it most of the nights and when he came to play, there was nothing better.
Suns.com: What were your thoughts when you did get to be a teammate of Barkley’s?
Tisdale: I looked forward to it. I’ve always like that cockiness. I liked his approach to the game. I liked the fact that he said what was on his mind. I looked up to that.
Suns.com: How did your impressions of Barkley change when you came to Phoenix?
Tisdale: I really got to know Charles when I came to the team. I thought I knew him before I got there. He’s probably the greatest guy. He’s got the biggest heart in the world, one of the greatest rebounders I ever played with. Yeah, his mouth gets him in trouble, but that’s him. If you don’t know him, you don’t know how to take half the stuff. We did get a chance to get to know Charles. Some of the stuff he would say would get taken out of context, but deep down inside, that’s one good-hearted guy.
Suns.com: What was it like to have him around practice and in the locker room?
Tisdale: Well, I don’t know because he didn’t ever practice (laughs). He was always the life of the party, though, no matter what it was. He was always the life of the party.
Suns.com: What memories do have of Barkley on the court during your time with the Suns?
Tisdale: I remember him going up for a rebound in the middle of three 7-footers one game. I just remember the whole sequence of the play. The three 7-footers ended up on their backs and he ended up with the ball. I could not believe this guy would go up in a crowd and grab that rebound with people just falling all around him. It was crazy. He was a freak of nature, a wonder of the world. Here was a guy who I wouldn’t say always played while in shape, but the stuff he was able to do out of shape I couldn’t do while I was in shape.
I also remember the first time I went back to Sacramento, the fans were trying to give me a hard time and Charles really took that personally. He stood up for me. He started talking noise to everybody. He didn’t care if they were a woman or a kid, he was talking to them. He was telling everyone, “Thank you. Thank you for letting me have him.”
Suns.com: What are your memories about playing in the post-season with Barkley and the Suns?
Tisdale: Oh man, those still haunt me. I still lay up and wonder how we lost when we had Houston down 3-1. We could have gone to the next level, but it was a great time to even be there. I play all those years and had never even had the opportunity to go to the playoffs until then. It was very enjoyable and disappointing at the same time. I still wake up frustrated that we didn’t win those series.
Suns.com: What was Barkley like off the court around town?
Tisdale: When I would see him out at times, he had a good time. He lived it to its fullest. I didn’t really get to hang out with him that much off the court, but in the couple of times I did run into him we had a great time when we were hanging out.
Suns.com: What are your thoughts about this weekend and Barkley going up in the Ring of Honor?
Tisdale: I’m just very proud of him. It’s very well deserved and I’m just happy to have been part of his era.
Suns.com: What do you think about Barkley the broadcaster?
Tisdale: He’s awesome. He tells it like it is. A lot of people get mad at him, but he’s not there trying to make friends, he’s there to tell the truth. I love it, especially now because he talks about the real issues and that’s what’s important.