Charles Barkley is primarily known for his Hall of Fame NBA career and hilarious antics as anchor of TNT’s popular studio show. But there is another side to the gregarious, fun-loving “Round Mound of Rebound” that gets overlooked: his out-of-control behavior, including vice, violence and vitriol.
It’s rare for a person to be a professional athlete and world-class lard ass, but Barkley has pulled it off his entire career. Food issues have followed Barkley from day one. His college basketball coach Sonny Smith described Barkley as “a fat guy…who can play like the wind.” So enamored with carbohydrates, Barkley couldn’t resist eating even during a Sports Illustrated photo shoot.
“Chump change” is how Barkley described the amounts of money he solicited from sports agents during his career at Auburn. He admitted to that illegality as part of a process leading up to a potential run for office. His political hopes never panned out, no surprise given his personal fiscal policy. Barkley has lost an estimated $10 million from gambling, including $2.5 million in a single, six-hour blackjack session. He went delinquent on $400,000 in debt until the Wynn Las Vegas casino filed a civil complaint.
Barkley once had a woman service him underneath the steering wheel as he drove through Scottsdale, Arizona with a blood alcohol content of .149, nearly twice the legal limit. How did he describe it? “The best one I’ve ever had in my life.”
In 1991 Barkley was charged with assault for punching a man in the face, and in 1997 he was arrested in Florida for hurling a man through a plate glass window. Barkley had a good sense of humor about his aggravated battery case. From the preface he wrote for Rick Reilly’s book The Life of Reilly: “Of all the people in sports I’d like to throw through a plate glass window Reilly’s not one of them. It’s a shame though; skinny white boys look real aerodynamic.”
Also in 1991, the NBA fined Barkley $10,000 for spitting on a young girl whose only mistake was sitting near a heckler. While Barkley’s loogie-launching might be inaccurate, his aim is dead on when throwing elbows at Olympic athletes from third world countries: