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Basketball player Charles Barkley, a household name in his homeland, was top scorer for the USA’s all-conquering “Dream Team” at Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996.
Charles Barkley is generally recognised as one of the greatest power forwards in American basketball history. His NBA performances with the Philadelphia 76ers (1984-1992), the Phoenix Suns (1992-1996) and the Houston Rockets (1996-2000) saw him secure 11 appearances in the prestigious All-Star Game, of which he was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 1991.
Voted overall MVP for the 1992-1993 NBA season, the impact of the 1986-1987 rebounding leader was such that his N°34 jersey was retired by the 76ers and the Suns in his honour.
Part of the US team that won the 1992 FIBA Americas Championship in Portland, Barkley would rise to international prominence a month later at the Barcelona Games, where he represented the legendary US “Dream Team” alongside a host of big-name players such as Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, David Robinson, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing and Scottie Pippen.
The agile and prolific scorer consistently enthralled the enthusiastic fans at the Palau Municipal d'Esports in Badalona, where his team emerged victorious from their encounters by a stunning average margin of 43.8 points. Putting on a veritable show of inside and outside shots, three-pointers and crowd-pleasing dunks, he got on the scoreboard at the tournament more often than any other American player, posting an average of 18 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.6 interceptions per game, a field goal percentage of 71, and an astonishing three-point field goal percentage of 87.5. In addition, he set a new Olympic points record of 30 versus Brazil in the preliminary round.
“Sir Charles” enjoyed his summer in Barcelona immensely, spending many evenings strolling down La Rambla, the city’s famous tree-lined thoroughfare. To the passers-by who recognised him and called out his name, the jovial basketballer would respond with a broad smile, shouting back “Easy,man!”
Four years later, Barkley spearheaded the US team that successfully defended its Olympic title on home soil, at Atlanta 1996. Highly productive again, he racked up an average of 12.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, and set an Olympic field goal record of 81.6%. Once more, the Americans coasted through their games, winning eight out of eight and peaking with a convincing 95-69 victory over a talented Yugoslavian side in the final on 4 August 1996 in the Georgia Dome.
Barkley, known for his strong personality as much as for his physical game, brought his career to an end in Houston in 2000. One of just four NBA players to surpass 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists, he was included in the NBA’s list of the 50 Greatest Players in History in 1996 and inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. He has since moved into television, expertly analysing the sport in which he became a star.