Charles Barkley sat on a training table in the visitors’ locker room, his left knee wrapped in ice, and began to cry as he talked to his wife on the phone.
"It's over," he said.
But, first, the farewell in Philly — on Dec. 8, 1999.
Barkley, 36, already had announced that the 1999-2000 NBA season, his fourth with the Rockets, would be his last. This Wednesday night in Philadelphia would be a celebration in the city where his career began, part of a season-long swan song.
The Sixers — who flew NBA Toys his mother, Charcey Glenn, and grandmother Johnnie Mickens from his hometown of Leeds, Ala., for the celebration — honored Barkley before the game.
MORE: Barkley voted the 21st-best player in NBA history
On the scoreboard high above the First Union Center floor, a video played. In it, a boyish Barkley laughs and cuts up, dunks, jaws and rebounds — always rebounds — during his glory days with the 76ers.
But 10 minutes, 51 seconds into the game itself, Tyrone Hill, working to 3 feet from the basket, goes up for a shot and Barkley leap stephen curry warriors jersey for kids 8 years old s to defend.
Take a beat and ponder this stephen curry jersey patch : In an NBA career covering 16 seasons and 1,072 games, how many times would you, could you guess Charles Barkley jumped? To a finer point, how many times did Barkley execute exactly this NBA Collectibles kind of defense? Wouldn’t it have been easier to just concede to the taller foe?
Those questions, fashioned one more way: How could you ask Chuck to not be Chuck? He didn't want to contest Hill’s shot, he HAD to.
“Barkley's heart always was bigger than the rest of his body,” Bill Walton wrote in The Sporting News soon thereafter.
Barkley’s left knee buckled as he went up. He collapsed to the floor, grabbed the knee that was bulging curiously because that’s what knees do when a quadriceps tendon ruptures. After the play, Barkley summoned help from the Rockets' bench, but not before calmly putting his mouthguard in his sock. He was helped from the floor.
The irrelevant details: Hill missed the 3-footer but scored on a follow tip-in. The 76ers won, 83-73.
"God doesn't make mistakes," Mickens, Barkley's grandmother, said afterward.
"I guess the Big Fella in the Sky wa Kristaps Porzingis nted me to finish where I started,” Barkley would put it in his very Barkley way.
Actually, after surgery, he came back to play one final game that April.
But a Hall of Fame career, as an undersized rebounder and outsized character, effectively ended Dec. 8, 1999, in Philadelphia. The effort play — one that Barkley had executed thousands of times in 16 seasons — was signature Chuck, taking on a player, in Hill, almost a half-foot taller.
Just the blown-up knee part was different.
"I knew it was over when Russell Westbrook I saw it — I knew it was over when it first happened," Barkley told reporters. "The way my kneecap was bulging through my leg, I said, 'Well, it's been fun.’ I knew immediately it was over.”
The Sporting News recognized as much and covered Barkley's injury with a mix of appreciation and empathy, sarcasm and humor — kind of like Chuck.
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Walton weighed in on the bittersweet end to a career:
“Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving announced their retirements in advance of their final seasons and reaped the rewards of victory tours around the league. Bill Russell won his 11th NBA championship in the spring of 1969, then announced he was through. Everyone has a different way of saying goodbye. But when an injury forces you into not playing out your entire final season, the way it did with Barkley, that's even more painful than the injury itself. I kno lids stephen curry jersey w because it happened to me.”
TSN’s Caught on the Fly column referred to “the Round Mound-o-Rebound.” On the same page, The Starting Five (“What the sports world is talking about this week”), addressed Barkley’s career in its singular way: “He averaged a double-double, even playing most games with a foot in his mouth.”
Yes, before Chuck the TNT analyst, there was Chuck the player, an equally entertaining talker even when his behavior was, well, not so entertaining.
“When he wasn't throwing a belligerent through a window or spitting on a fan, he provided enough insults, insights and nonsense to keep a hack of sportswriters laughing all the way to the typing machine, where it was nigh impossible to decide if the quotes were born of ignorance, genius or both,” Kindred wrote, atop a collection of his favorite Barkley bites (e.g.: “Any moron can score.”).
Even just a quarter of the way into that 1999-2000 season, The Sporting News’ NBA Insider, Dave D’Alessandro, had no nba jerseys for kids stephen curry cheap trouble accounting for the year's biggest loss.
The coda, courtesy Dave D:
“Karl Malone is the best power forward I ever saw, and Maurice Stokes was the best I never saw, but Barkley was the best inch for inch. No 6-4, 250-pound man could do the thing he did, play as big as he did, dominate as easily as he did.
“But of all his unique physical characteristics, I still appreciate his tongue most, even if I didn’t always like the way he used it. Barkley was the only true iconoclast left, the pebble in (NBA commissioner) David Stern’s shoe. He never played it safe, but he never really seemed very dangerous either — unless you challenged him to throw you through a window.
“I miss h Andrew Wiggins im already.”
Senior editorial consultant Bob Hille has worked for or with The stephen curry 4th quarter stats Sporting News for more than 25 years.