Ranking the 50 greatest NBA players of all time

The Last Dance, Michael Jordan, LeBron James (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The Last Dance, Michael Jordan, LeBron James (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images /

19. Charles Barkley

  • Resume: 16 seasons, 1 regular season MVP Award, 11-time All-NBA selection, 11-time NBA All-Star, NBA All-Star Game MVP, 1-time NBA leader in rebounding, member of the Dream Team, Hall-of-Famer
  • Stats: 22.1 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.5 SPG, .541/.266/.735 shooting splits, 24.6 career PER, 177.2 win shares

Sir Charles, like many superstars in the ’90s, was denied his chance at a title by MJ’s reign of terror. But other than Moses Malone, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have on the court if my team needed a rebound. Barkley was often criticized for being out of shape, but he was surprisingly agile for his size and turned into a runaway freight train with the ball in the transition. People get out of LeBron’s way, but this guy was the original. NOBODY got in front of this guy on a fast break.

Barkley had an inordinate amount of bad luck in his career, joining the Philadelphia 76ers right when Dr. J and Moses Malone were past their primes. Still, he immediately displayed great handles and leaping ability for his build. Once he was traded to the Phoenix Suns, Chuck turned them into an instant title contender, winning a league-best 62 games in his first season with the team en route to an MVP Award and a trip to the Finals.

Barkley, who was coming off an appearance with the Dream Team in Barcelona and was called the second-best player on that legendary team, averaged 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks per game for the season and gave Jordan everything he could handle in the championship series; MJ was just slightly better.

He never got his chance at a title in his later years with the Houston Rockets because of injuries and Karl Malone’s Utah Jazz. But “The Mound Round of Rebound” was a behemoth on the offensive boards, using his strength and aggression to make up for his lack of height. He didn’t take s**t from anybody and his attitude stirred up more than a few controversies, but Barkley was the leader of one of the greatest teams to never win a title and a talent the likes of which we may never see again. That’s anything but turrible.