Charles Barkley Inducted Into Arizona Sports Hall Of Fame

Apr. 8, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Former Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley on the red carpet at the 45th Arizona Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Mandatory Credit: Gerald Bourguet-Valley of the Suns
Apr. 8, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Former Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley on the red carpet at the 45th Arizona Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Mandatory Credit: Gerald Bourguet-Valley of the Suns /

Phoenix Suns legend Charles Barkley is already a two-time inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but Wednesday night, he added another Hall of Fame induction to his resume: the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.

Barkley, an 11-time All-NBA and 11-time All-Star selection, spent only four of his 16 seasons in the league with the Suns. But during his four years in Phoenix, he won a regular season MVP Award, led the Suns to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1976 and averaged 23.4 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game during his tenure there.

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Finishing up his work with CBS as a broadcaster for March Madness this past Monday, Barkley said he was tired but happy to be in Phoenix for the special occasion.

“It’s pretty cool. When I came here in ’92, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said said.

Named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, Barkley was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006 for his individual career and again in 2010 as a member of the 1992 Summer Olympics “Dream Team.”

After being traded to the Suns from the Philadelphia 76ers, Barkley led Phoenix to its best season ever with a league-best 62-20 record, earning him regular season MVP honors. The Suns met Michael Jordan‘s Chicago Bulls in the 1993 NBA Finals in Barkley’s first season in Phoenix, but fell to the Bulls in six games.

Barkley averaged 27.3 points, 13.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game in that championship series, recording a 32-12-10 triple-double in Game 4. “The Round Mound of Rebound” never won an NBA championship, but his four years in Phoenix quickly cemented his status as one of the greatest Suns of all time.

Now working as an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster for TNT’s Inside The NBA, Barkley’s ties to the Valley of the Sun are still strong.

“Obviously I live here, so it must be a special place,” he said. “I tell people, ‘I can live anywhere I want to, but there’s a reason I live here in Phoenix.’ It’s a really cool place to live, the people are amazing, the fans have always been supportive. So I guess I’m surprised I’m living here, but the fans and the city have just been amazing.”

Barkley joined former Phoenix coach Lowell “Cotton” Fitzsimmons in the 45th Arizona Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Fitzsimmons received the award posthumously after dying of cancer in 2004.

“He was a mentor and a dear friend, someone who made incredible contributions wherever he was, and he left his mark around the country and in the NBA and in particular, right here in Phoenix with the Phoenix Suns,” said Jerry Colangelo, who served as the Suns’ general manger at the time. “A true ambassador of the game around the world, Cotton would always say he never had a bad day.

“Cotton would help so many people kind of have that positive attitude and his contributions to individuals, his contributions to the city, to the organization, were unmatched. It’s as simple as that. He’s been badly missed.”

“It’s really special because I knew Cotton before probably I was on Jerry’s (Colangelo) radar,” Barkley said of being inducted alongside Fitzsimmons, who helped bring Sir Charles to Phoenix.

Fitzsimmons compiled an 832-775 record during his 21 years of head coaching in the NBA, finishing sixth on the league’s all-time victory list. He began his coaching career with the Suns in 1970 and returned to Phoenix to coach in 1988. He won the NBA Coach of the Year Award in 1979 and 1989.

After falling short in the Western Conference semifinals with the Suns in 1992, he took on a senior executive vice-president role and helped convince general manager Jerry Colangelo to trade Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry and Andrew Lang to the Philadelphia 76ers for Charles Barkley.

“You hope for things to happen in life that you’ll always remember, and so those years were some of the most memorable any of us have ever had in life,” Colangelo said. “We were a family. That was a big part of it. Tonight is a well-deserved honor for Cotton, he should be in everyone’s Hall of Fame.”

Barkley echoed Colangelo’s thoughts on how special those four years were with the Suns.

“Just having an opportunity to win, because it’s all you really want. I tell people this, you can play as many years as you want to, but it’s very seldom you really have an opportunity to win,” Barkley said. “You can play 15 years, but let’s be realistic; probably only five or six of those years you can actually win.

“And they gave me three years of like — we did the best we could, we just got beat. We lost to the champions three years in a row and that’s all I ever wanted.”

As for the current state of the Phoenix Suns and their “fair weather” fans?

“The fans are great here. Listen, fans are not gonna support you when you suck,” he said. “They need to quit getting the little people, they’ve gotten enough point guards.”

Barkley and Fitzsimmons were also joined by 2001 World Series hero Luiz Gonzalez (“Gonzo”) of the Arizona Diamondbacks; ASU and LPGA golfing great Danielle Ammaccapane; and longtime local sportswriter Joe Gilmartin.

This year’s inductees were chosen by a combination of public online voting and a selection committee from the Arizona Sports and Entertainment Commission, which administers the Hall of Fame.

Barkley is just the third Suns player to join the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame, with the other two being Dick Van Arsdale in 1981 and Alvan Adams in 1988.

Next: Steve Nash: Top 10 Moments With The Phoenix Suns

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