BEST PHOENIX SPORTS LEGEND Phoenix 2007 - Charles Barkley
What a soundbite he'd be! No more of that wishy-washy politspeak from the likes of Janet Napolitano. Wouldn't it be refreshing to have him yelling to the Capitol press corps, "I am not a role model!" It would be eyebrow-raising, because when have you ever heard of a wack-job politician not thinking he's indeed a role model, and don't you forget it? Honestly!
That's what we like about Sir Charles. Even when he's criticizing our beloved Phoenix Suns for lack of defense, we know he means it. We didn't say he was correct or that he wasn't drunk when he said it, but we know it was his honest assessment. He's famous for speaking his mind, like when he put himself inside 7-foot-6 Yao Ming's head on Yao's coming to America: "Whew, even white guys can play over here!" Or when he said before his All-Star Game foot-race with 70-something referee Dick Bevetta last season: "I have nothing against old people; I want to be one myself one day." In a town full of sports legends (Muhammad Ali lives here, the greatest hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky, coaches here, and every month or so we hear about a Kirby Puckett or a George Mikan dying here), Charles Barkley is our legend. He golfs (badly) here; we've seen him at our local Starbucks. He's also the only sports legend in our midst to have taken our Suns to the NBA finals, albeit in a losing effort in 1993 to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, despite his having declared to Jordan that it was "destiny" for the Suns to win.
Like we say, he's not always right. The most dominating power forward in the league during his salad days, he was named MVP for the 1992-93 season. Barkley retired seven years ago as the fourth player in the history of the professional game to rack up 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, and 4,000 assists.