I saw almost every home game Charles Barkley ever played in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform, so this story hits close to home for me.
What I never knew was that Barkley initially never wanted to be drafted by the 76ers. Per Larry Brown Sports via TNT, Barkley during a TV special to celebrate his 50th birthday, tells a hilarious story about how he tried to sabotage his draft status with the Sixers over money. Imagine that.
“The 76ers bring me in a month before the draft,” Barkley recalled to interviewer Ernie Johnson, “and I weigh 300 pounds.
“The Sixers bring me in and say, ‘We want to see how dedicated and motivated you are. We want to see you lose 10 pounds in the next month and get to 290.’”
Johnson asked if Barkley thought that would be easy, and he said, “Oh yeah, I thought it was easy.
“So I go down to Texas with my agent and play. I actually get down to about 285. Philadelphia wants me to stop [by] on my way to New York the day before the draft. I’m about 285 at this point. My agent says to me — and remember, they had a hard salary cap back then, ‘Well, I think the Sixers might draft you, but the only problem is you’re going to have to sign a one-year deal for $75,000.’ I said, ‘Dude, I didn’t leave college for a one-year deal for $75,000.’ He said, ‘The Sixers are over the cap — that’s what they can give you.’ So I said ‘I don’t want the Sixers to draft me.’
“So that night, we went out. I had two big ol’ steaks. Big plate of french fries. Ate like a whole cake. Got up the next morning, went to like IHOP, ate like 10 pancakes, a pound of bacon. Fly to Philadelphia, get on the scale, I’m 302.
“(Former 76ers owner) Harold Katz says, ‘Are you kidding me? Not only did you not lose the 10 pounds, you gained like five pounds!” said Barkley.
Of course Mr. Katz drafted Sir Charles anyway, and the rest is history. Barkley went on to play eight memorable seasons here, made six All-Star teams, forced a trade to Phoenix, and he went on to have a Hall of Fame career, despite his antics.