Today’s Suns on Sir Charles

by Jeramie McPeek
VP, Digital

Posted: March 18, 2004

The current members of the Suns' roster have had varying degrees of contact and/or experience with Sir Charles over the years, from assistant coach Marc Iavaroni playing with and agasint the Chuckster, to some of the young Suns being in diapers when he came into the league.

Many of them shared their thoughts on this weekend's festivities and the impact Barkley had on the Suns and the league.

SUNS HEAD COACH MIKE D'ANTONI: "Obviously he’s earned it. It will be a great weekend. It’ll be fun, there will be excitement in the arena and hopefully it carries over to the players and they’ll play with great excitement."

(On memories of Barkley playing)
"Other than the entertainment factor that was big, was just also the way he conducted himself on the court, especially. Not always off the court, but on the court he was great. A competitor and he’s genuinely a good guy. "

(On Barkley going in the Ring of Honor)
"It’s great. I think that’s the way it should be. Whatever happened in the past is way in the past, so both of them deserve to have a great weekend and it’s good for the organization and the fans of Phoenix, and it should be fun."

(On the buzz this weekend)
"Halftime will be longer but that’s not that big of a deal. I think the buzz will help. It will almost be like a playoff atmosphere or trying to get to the playoffs. Right now we’re not playing for a lot and to get their energy up is not always easy. The fans with Barkley going in should help this weekend. Also, two good teams are coming in, so it should be a great weekend."

SUNS ASSISTANT COACH MARC IAVARONI: "(I played with Barkley in Philadelphis for) two and a half months. I got traded to San Antonio. I remember he came in with a very irreverent attitude. He was throwing people on the floor and he was determined to play. He was a real fierce competitor and basically took my job. I was starting. I was role player and he was a pending great player."

(On playing against Barkley)
"I had to guard him and he had to guard me, and I always said, 'He can score on me but I can score on him.'"

"He’s a tremendous athlete. I remember one time we were on the floor diving for a ball. We both went down and by the time I got to one hand to get up, he had already caught the rebound and dunked it. We were both on the ground, it just blew me away. It was in the (Philadelphia) Spectrum."

(On Barkley as a rookie)
"He was playing with some great players, but he wasn’t in awe of any of them and I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about Julius Erving and Andrew Toney and Maurice Cheeks and Bobby Jones. Two years prior, we had a world championship team. He came in there very fierce and very competitive, and obviously then showed that he could play and excel."

(On buzz in the arena)
"I think it’s good for the league. Obviously it’s good for the franchise, it’s good for Charles. I think he’s meant a lot of NBA basketball, he’s meant a lot to the Phoenix Suns and obviously the Sixers, and every team he’s touched. I think he’s being honored in the correct way."

SUNS FORWARD SHAWN MARION: "Both games are going to be sold out this weekend because it’s Charles Barkley. No.34. Yeah, that’s my man. Charles is cool. He did a lot for this community, and I think he’s a great person."

(On Barkley memories)
"My rookie year we were here playing Houston at the time. He was with the Rockets. The game was on TNT. On the tip-off, for some reason, I went the wrong way. He was messing with me the whole game after that. "

SUNS FORWARD AMARÉ STOUDEMIRE: "It’s going to be fun. I just want to say congratulations to him for getting in the Ring of Honor. The bobblehead’s going to be fun to play with (laughs). It’s going to be fun."

(On watching Barkley play)
"I remember Barkley when he was here with the Suns. I don’t remember him with the Sixers. I remember him as a Sun and I remember how aggressive he was, and how he was a team leader and that’s something I always enjoyed watching about him. He was aggressive and he took every play to the rack strong, a great rebounder."

(On Barkley the broadcaster)
"He’s funny. He brings a lot of humor to TNT and that makes you want to watch more because you get a kick out of watching him."

(On memories of Barkley playing)
"I remember when they went to the Finals against the Bulls. That was a tough game but they took it down to the wire. I think both of those guys were champions because it takes a lot to get there, and I’m witnessing that now."

(On significance of Barkley to the franchise)
"It’s exciting to see a guy like Barkley have an amazing career, a future Hall-of-Famer to get inducted into the Ring of Honor, that’s a great thing to watch. I’m pretty sure that’s going to run chills through us. it’s an important night for Barkley and an exciting night for him and I just want to tell him congratulations."

(On envisioning going up in the Ring of Honor)
"Someday, hopefully. If I keep up the good work and keep working hard and someday hopefully I can get there."

SUNS FORWARD ANTONIO MCDYESS: "My main memory of him was when he fought Shaquille O’Neal (laughs). I know Charles was a hard worker. I played against him and he was relentless on the rebounds, on the boards. He worked so hard, it was tough guarding him. Anytime he wanted to score, he scored. Anytime he wanted a rebound, he did it. Charles was a great player. "

(On playing with and against Barkley)
"With him on the court, you could only be better. Playing against him, he’d joke with you, but when it came time for the game, he’d kill you (laughs). I remember one time when I was in Denver, I had the ball and he said, 'You can only go left. I’m going to get on your left side.' He just completely got on my left side, so I went right to shoot. He just smacked the ball and says, 'You ain’t got no offense!'"

(On getting Charles’ No. 34)
"He used to tell Head Athletic Trainer Aaron Nelson, 'Don’t let that guy get my number.' But when he saw me, he’d be like, 'Yeah, man. Way to wear that number.' I told him, 'Yeah, you told Aaron you didn’t want me wearing it (laughs).' It was great to represent that number when I was here."

SUNS GUARD CASEY JACOBSEN: "I’m obviously a fan of Charles Barkley on and off the court. I think he’s a funny dude. He did a lot for the game of basketball. I think he’s doing a lot for the game now with the show that he’s doing and his work on TNT. A lot of people watch just to see what Charles is going to say and that creates interest in the game of basketball for the NBA and that’s great for everybody."

(On memories of Barkley playing)
"When he played against Michael Jordan in the ’93 Finals, obviously everybody loved Michael – Michael was one of my favorite players – but I loved watching Charles play. the guy’s listed as 6-6, but he’s more like 6-3½ with shoes on, but it didn’t matter. The guy punished people down low. It didn’t matter if he had a 6-10 300-pounder on him; he punished them on the blocks, on the boards, running up and down the court. He was really fun to watch. Of course, just like today, everybody wanted to see what he was going to say in the paper. For you guys (in the media) he was probably a dream. He was a quote machine.

"I have a lot of great memories. I’ve been a basketball fan my whole life. Charles is one of the best players of all time, so yes I respect his game and the kind of player that he was, because he did an unbelievable amount with – I wouldn’t say he didn’t have a little bit to work with, but for his position, he was playing out of position and he just killed people every night."

(On Barkley the broadcaster)
"I don’t really consider him as a broadcaster. I would say he’s like an analyst. He knows the game, but at the same time he knows that he’s a funny guy, so it’s not like he all the time breaks it down, Xs and Os for you. He’ll tell you his opinion of who’s good and who’s bad, and throw in a funny quote to make people laugh. That’s what he knows he’s good at. He’s one of the best at doing that. I’m not as funny as Charles, so if I go into broadcasting some day, I’m going to have to minimize the jokes and maximize the analytical part of the game."

(On Barkley going in the Ring of Honor)
"It is my birthday tomorrow, so bobblehead dolls day for Charles will be on my birthday and then his Ring ceremony will be the day after, so two cool occasions coming back-to-back for me, so it will be a fun weekend for me."

SUNS CENTER JAHIDI WHITE: "Charles Barkley, he’s one of my favorite players. I watched him all the time here and with the 76ers. My father and I were big fans of Charles. We use to watch every basketball game there was. We always had the same favorite players: Magic Johnson, Julius Erving and Charles Barkley.

He was just a dominant player out there. He had his mind focused. He was going to get all the rebounds. He played hard. It was passion, the passion he had for the game."


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