Charles Barkley‘s No. 34 jersey is now retired by the 76ers.
But the Hall of Fame power forward initially tried to avoid going there.
A guest on The Russillo Show podcast on ESPN, Barkley told the story of his attempt to persuade Philly not to draft him after discovering the team could only offer him a one-year, $75,000 deal. Chuck’s strategy? Gain as much weight as possible by going on “a 48-hour bender to Denny’s.”
The Sixers wanted Charles to get down from 298 pounds to 285; and the big man succeeded at doing so before learning of the hard cap on his potential salary. At 282, his quest to regain the weight began.
So we went on a 48-hour bender to Denny’s. We went to Denny’s for two days and I fit as many pancakes as I could in my mouth for breakfast. For lunch, we went to a cafeteria buffet. For dinner we went to a big steakhouse. We did that for 48 hours straight. So, we fly to Philly. I get on the scale and I weigh 302. And the owner of the Sixers calls me every name in the book. And I’m trying to kinda laugh on the inside, like, dude then don’t draft me. But I was trying to be professional.
The plan did not work, however, as Philadelphia went on to select Barkley with the fifth overall pick in the 1984 Draft.
When they called with the fifth pick in the draft the 76ers take Charles Barkley, I thought I was gonna die. I thought I was in trouble. I was like, holy crap. I left college for $75,000.
Chuck went on to average 23.3 points and 11.6 rebounds in eight seasons with the organization.