Charles Barkley turns 50 on Wednesday, and his eventful life was celebrated in a program aired by TNT. The special, “Sir Charles at 50,” was funny and insightful, and it contained many stories Barkley shared about his life.
One of the best and lesser-known stories Barkley shared was about the time he went on a massive eating binge before the 1984 NBA Draft to discourage the Philadelphia 76ers from selecting him.
“The 76ers bring me in a month before the draft,” Barkley recalled to interviewer Ernie Johnson, “and I weigh 300 pounds.
“The Sixers bring me in and say, ‘We want to see how dedicated and motivated you are. We want to see you lose 10 pounds in the next month and get to 290.’”
Johnson asked if Barkley thought that would be easy, and he said, “Oh yeah, I thought it was easy.
“So I go down to Texas with my agent and play. I actually get down to about 285. Philadelphia wants me to stop [by] on my way to New York the day before the draft. I’m about 285 at this point. My agent says to me — and remember, they had a hard salary cap back then, ‘Well, I think the Sixers might draft you, but the only problem is you’re going to have to sign a one-year deal for $75,000.’ I said, ‘Dude, I didn’t leave college for a one-year deal for $75,000.’ He said, ‘The Sixers are over the cap — that’s what they can give you.’ So I said ‘I don’t want the Sixers to draft me.’
“So that night, we went out. I had two big ol’ steaks. Big plate of french fries. Ate like a whole cake. Got up the next morning, went to like IHOP, ate like 10 pancakes, a pound of bacon. Fly to Philadelphia, get on the scale, I’m 302.
“(Former 76ers owner) Harold Katz says, ‘Are you kidding me? Not only did you not lose the 10 pounds, you gained like five pounds!” said Barkley.
The Sixers ended up selecting Barkley anyway, and they cut a few players in order to give him a more suitable contract. He played eight seasons for the team, made six All-Star games while he was with them, and he went on to have a Hall of Fame career, despite his best efforts to eat his way out of Philly.
So by Sir Charles’ math, he gained about 17 pounds in less than 24 hours. I didn’t even know that was possible.