The Lakers Remember Sir Charles
Posted: Feb. 25, 2004
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.
With the Lakers in town to take on the Suns this past weekend, we entered the visitors' locker room and spoke with fomer Sonics guard Gary Payton and ex-Bulls mainstays Phil Jackson and Horace Grant, who shared their memories of challenging the Chuckster during the 1993 playoffs. And although he never faced Barkley in the postseason, Shaquille O'Neal had some kind comments to offer up, as well.
LAKERS GUARD GARY PAYTON: "He was a good basketball player. He was my friend and everything. He talked a lot of trash but he was all right. He was one of the best basketball players to play this game. He was best at being a bully at rebounding. He was the 'Round Mound of Rebound.' That’s what he was. He knew how to get rebounds any time, man. He’d get 20 every night and he was really good at it. He deserves everything he gets."
(On meeting Barkley and the Suns in the 1993 Western Conference Finals)
"That’s when he had his MVP year. He was doing really well. He was just talking (trash). He was just being Chuck. He was being Charles. That’s the guy. That’s when he was in his prime, doing really well. It was fun. I was going back at him, we were going back at each other. It was a nice series."
LAKERS HEAD COACH PHIL JACKSON: "Charles is a guy who, when a ball was in his area, it became his. There are a few players like that who come to the ball game or this level of play, who always seem to gravitate to the basketball, loose balls, rebounds, steals. Charles was the kind of player that came up with really big plays, clutch plays and he played as big as a seven-footer."
(On the 1993 NBA Finals meeting between the Suns and Bulls)
"I think that was one of the exciting series of the NBA when the two personalities of Michael (Jordan) and Charles were really on display... Dan Majerle, Scottie Pippen, Danny Ainge… there were a variety of people that played for the two teams that had great careers in the NBA. It was a dramatic finish to a dramatic series."
(On Barkley being inducted into the Suns' Ring of Honor)
"I’m happy Charles is receiving that recognition. I know there were some hard feelings when he was traded, but it’s very good they’re honoring him and he’s receptive to it."
LAKERS CENTER HORACE GRANT: "There were some battles. In my career he was one of the toughest guys that I ever had to face. In terms of his size and his strength, and his intelligence of the game. It’s obvious because of his records that he can rebound. He was like a magnet to the ball. Sometimes you thought he wasn’t going to get the rebound, but he pushed you right under and it was his. One of the best power forwards who ever played the game."
(On Barkley's play in the 1993 Finals)
"A guy like that, there’s no way he’s going to sit down in the Finals. A couple of those wins they had, he willed his team to win up in Chicago. I remember that game he had a big swollen elbow, but there was no stopping him. I think he had 30-something points and 18-19 rebounds, something like that. He’s one of the best."
(On Barkley's personality)
"He took the game serious but he had fun doing it. He always was and always will be a character. I mean that in a good sense. Playing with the mascots and playing with the fans, and even playing with the opponents sometimes, an elbow here, an elbow there, but it was nothing personal."
LAKERS CENTER SHAQUILLE O"NEAL: "He was always a great player, very undersized, almost had a ring. But I won’t judge him for his championships that he didn’t win. He’s a Hall of Famer, he’s a great player and it’s about time (the Suns) retired his jersey.
"He was undersized but never backed down. He’s like the only undersized big man that never backed down. He was just a hard player that got a lot of respect in this league."