By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Dulce Paloma Baltazar Pedraza
By Ray Stern
By Pete Kotz
By Monica Alonzo
By New Times
"They told me that I was their son Drazen's idol as a player. They made that trip to Munich especially to tell me that. Just hearing that one statement from them made everything I go through worth it. It was the best thing I ever heard. That makes up for all the bad articles."
Petrovic, who was an NBA All-Star for the New Jersey Nets last season, died this past summer in an auto crash.
Two small children suddenly appear. Barkley genuinely likes children. He inquires about their names. They are Larry and Rick.
"Do you want something to drink? Are you having a good time? Take a seat and hang around, okay?"
"I'm not trying to please everybody in this world," Barkley says. "I'm trying to please only myself, God and the people in my little circle. Some people don't like you because you're white, black, Jewish or Catholic or Democrat or Republican or because you are for or against abortion.
"If you try to please everybody, you will be one fucked-up individual. Some people don't even like God. That's how impossible it is."
Some say Jordan was forced out of the game because the limelight finally wore him down. He took his meals in hotel rooms and could not venture into the street without drawing a crowd. Barkley, on the other hand, seems to embrace crowds. He waves his arms over his head and joins in with them.
"You haven't allowed yourself to be held hostage by your fans the way Michael was," a man notes. "You still feel free to go out whenever you feel like it."
Barkley picks up on that immediately. He grins for the first time.
"Sometimes, I just tell the motherfuckers to get back. It gets to a point where I feel I've had enough, and I just have to exert control. I don't turn people down. If I go to some nightclub and I give 50 autographs, then I cut it off. I ask them to back off. If they take that personally, then it's too bad. That's all right with me."
"You see, it's so easy for other people to criticize me. But they don't know what it's like. Nobody in this world knows what it's like to be Charles Barkley."
"What is it that you like the most about being Charles Barkley?"
Charles' face breaks into a broad grin.
"I like the money. That's the best thing. It gives me the opportunity to do nice things for the people around me.
"I'm not saying money is the most important thing, but it made it possible for me to buy a car and a house for my mother and a car and a house for my grandmother. It made them happy, and there's no price you can put on that."
He refuses to worry about the future.
"I could get killed tomorrow," Charles says. "I'm not saying that to be morbid. But I just think about tonight. I'm not even thinking about tomorrow.
"You play tonight's game, and you live your life out that way.