Sept. 7, 2006
AUBURN - Former Auburn All-American Charles Barkley becomes the first player from the state of Alabama to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame during Enshrinement ceremonies this weekend in Springfield, Mass. The Enshrinement Ceremony is Friday followed by Saturday's Induction Celebration.
Joining Barkley in the Class of 2006 are Dominique Wilkins, Joe Dumars, Geno Auriemma, David Gavitt and Sandro Gamba. Barkley was selected to Auburn's All-Century team this past March, had his No. 34 Auburn jersey retired Mar. 3, 2001, was a second-team All-America selection as a junior in 1983-84 and was the AP and UPI SEC Player of the Year.
"Auburn gave me an opportunity to be successful," Barkley said. "I will appreciate that always. As for being the first player from Alabama in the Hall, that's pretty cool ... especially being a basketball player. No. 1 in sports, all these guys stick together. No matter what sport you play, it is the greatest fraternity in the world. I think basketball has given me every single thing in my life. I am 43 and never had a real job and hopefully I will never have to get one. These guys in the audience (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, etc.) made the NBA. Guys way before my time. When I see these guys, I thank them for making the NBA what it is."
The Leeds, Ala., native was a three-time All-SEC pick and the 1984 SEC Tournament MVP, led the SEC in rebounding three-straight years and still holds the Auburn career field goal pct. record (.626). Barkley was the fifth pick overall in the 1984 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and is a one of the NBA's All-Time 50 Greatest Players. He won two Gold Medals with the United States in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics.
"This is the ultimate," Barkley said. "It is just cool for all of my family and friends. I get a chance to thank them for helping me get there. The first thing I did was write the guys I played with in high school and called and told them thanks for getting me inspired. I want to thank my college coach (Sonny Smith) and my teammates and in the NBA, I would like to thank Moses Malone and Dr. J. (Julius Erving) because they were great. The two guys who taught me the most about basketball, playing, were Adrian Dantley and John Drew.. They taught me how to play against bigger guys because when you are 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6, you can't post big guys up."
Barkley was selected to 11 NBA All-Star games as well as the All-NBA First Team five times and the All-NBA Second Team five times. During his career with the 76ers (1984-92), Phoenix Suns (1992-96) and Houston Rockets (1996-2000), he averaged 22.1 points and almost 12 rebounds per game in his 16-year NBA career. He shares the single game record for most offensive rebounds in one quarter (11 in 1987).
Wilkins played at Georgia and was a nine-time NBA All-Star. Dumars played his entire professional career for the Detroit Pistons and was a key to their NBA Championships in 1989 and 1990. Auriemma has won five NCAA Championships as the women's coach at UConn while Gavitt helped lead Providence to eight-straight 20-win seasons, five NCAA Tournaments and one Final Four and was Chair of the NCAA Div. I Men's Basketball Committee and is responsible for the expansion of the tournament to 64 teams and the use of domed stadiums for the Final Four. Gamba has coached in Europe for over 30 years and has coached four Italian Olympic teams and led the 1980 squad to the silver medal.