Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, Charles Barkley has followed up his Hall of Fame basketball career with an Emmy-winning television career. A consummate entertainer, Charles has evolved into a pop culture icon who commands a very large and diverse audience that may not always agree with his opinions, but respects his ability to tell it like it is and speak from the heart. In the September 2011 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Matt Taibbi wrote that Charles is “alone with Muhammad Ali in having both the gift of speaking his mind with the sense of humor to match.”
Charles grew up in Leeds, Alabama, where he was raised by his mother and grandmother. He attended Auburn University and was the Southeastern Conference Player of the Decade for the 1980s. He played 16 seasons in the NBA, for the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets. A 6 foot, 5 inch power forward, he was selected the 1989-90 NBA Player of the Year by both Sporting News and Basketball Weekly and was the MVP of the 1991 NBA All Star Game.
In 1992, Charles represented the United States and won an Olympic gold medal as a member of the “Dream Team.” It was during these Olympic Games in Barcelona that the rest of the world discovered the personality that American basketball fans already knew. That year he was traded to the Phoenix Suns, which he helped transform into an NBA powerhouse. In 1993 Charles and the Suns battled his close friend Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals. He was the NBA’s MVP in 1993.
In 1996, Charles reached a huge career milestone by scoring his 20,000th point and grabbing his 10,000th rebound, a rare double feat in the NBA. He also had the honor of repeating as a Dream Team member at the Atlanta Olympics, where he won his second gold medal and again nearly stole the show.
For 16 unforgettable seasons, Charles was a league leader in rebounding and in heart. He was an NBA All Star 11 times and was a perennial member of the NBA’s All-Interview Team. Charles was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
During his playing career, Charles appeared in many innovative and memorable television commercials, for brands including Nike, McDonald’s, Gillette Right Guard, Charles Schwab, and Coca-Cola. He battled Godzilla in Tokyo for Nike, was Michael Jordan’s and Larry Bird’s third wheel in McDonald’s “Nothing But Net” campaign, and expounded on personal hygiene at a fox hunt for Right Guard. Charles teamed with Dwyane Wade in a series of memorable campaigns for T-Mobile, was the spokesman for Weight Watchers For Men, the “IT Guy” in ads for CDW, and since 2013 has been featured in Capital One’s March Madness campaign with Samuel L. Jackson and Spike Lee.
Charles has been a member of Turner Sports’ NBA broadcast team since 2000, as part of the Emmy-winning “Inside the NBA” studio show. In 2011, his duties expanded to include broadcasting the NCAA’s March Madness college basketball tournament, in partnership with Turner and CBS. He’s been nominated for four Sports Emmys and has won the last two, in 2012 and 2013.
Charles has written four books: “Outrageous!” (Simon & Schuster 1992), “Sir Charles: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles Barkley” (Warner Books 1996), “I May Be Wrong But I Doubt It” (Random House 2002), and “Who’s Afraid of A Large Black Man?” (Penguin Press 2005). He’s hosted NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” four times, in 1993, 2010, and again in 2018.