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April 13, 2015

Charles Barkley put on 20 pounds in 48 hours so Sixers wouldn't draft him

Hall of Fame forward talked to SI about his weight, European customs and much more

Before he was a spokesperson for Weight Watchers, former Sixers star Charles Barkley tried the "Denny's Diet."

Basketball aside, Barkley is known for being one of the most honest -- and entertaining -- people in sports. Nearly everything he says or does winds up in the news, thanks in large part to the fact that you know he's telling the truth, even if it's hard to believe.

Like the time he gained 20 pounds in 48 hours in an attempt to dissuade the Sixers from drafting him fifth overall...

Why was Sir Charles so hesitant to play in Philadelphia? Because of the money, of course.

Barkley, 52, sat down with Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated as part of the South By Southwest Interactive festival in Austin last month and he told the following story about why — and how — he added 20 pounds in 48 hours:

Back in my day we had a hard salary cap so you could not go over the salary cap like you can today and the Sixers had the No. 5 pick in the draft. I left college after three years and in fairness, I was fat in college. I played at 300 pounds. The Sixers called me a month before the draft and said, “We want you to get down to 285 pounds and come in before the draft.” So I get down to 283 and the night before we fly into Philly my agent said, “You do know if the Sixers draft you they are going to give you $75,000,  right?”  I said, “Dude, I didn’t leave college for $75,000. We have a problem.” He said, “You weigh about 283 now. What do you want to do? You beat their weight limit.” I said, “Let’s go out.”

So we went to Dennys and I had like two Grand Slam breakfasts. We went to lunch and I had like two big barbeque sandwiches. That night we went to a big steakhouse. The next morning I had two more Grand Slam breakfasts and when we flew to Philly, I weighed 302. I was like, Thank goodness, the Sixers are not going to draft me. So when you look at my face when commissioner [David] Stern says 'With the fifth pick in the draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Charles Barkley,' I was like, 'Oh, sh--.' When people go back and look at me walking, and they see that awful burgundy suit, everybody else is happy and Charles isn’t happy. But it worked out great. The most important person in my basketball career was Moses Malone and he got me down to under 250 pounds and the rest is history.  [via]

The entire Q&A is a great read, and doesn’t focus much on basketball, which is a good thing when you’re talking to a guy like Barkley. There was talk of JFK, Lance Armstrong, Twitter, sex, and much more.

Even in the brief moments when the topic did shift to basketball — like what it was like inside a Dream Team practice — Barkley found a way to make an already incredible answer even better.

They were the most intense thing I ever did in my life. Me and Karl Malone tried to kill each other to prove who the best power forward was. Patrick Ewing and David Robinson were trying to kill each other to prove who was the best center. Clyde Drexler was trying to kill Michael Jordan to prove he was the best two guard. Magic Johnson was pissed because the Bulls had just beat him in the finals and Scottie Pippen did a great job on him. So he wanted to prove it was a fluke. For two hours a day, it was amazing. Then we would go back to the pool where the naked girls were hanging out. That was one thing about being in foreign countries like Monaco, we’d rumble down the court for two hours and then make like a bee-line to the pool. All these women were topless. They don’t do that in the States.  [via]

Charles, don’t ever change.