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Thread: Retrospectives: Charles Barkley, Joe Dumars, Dominique Wilkins

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    Default Retrospectives: Charles Barkley, Joe Dumars, Dominique Wilkins

    This is somewhat old news, that Barkley, Dumars and Dominique were inducted with 3 others into the 2006 class of Hall-Of-Famers, but I thought some of these articles were great reads and tributes to three of the superstars from the golden age of NBA basketball... all very different players, but all played a huge part in the sucess of the 1980s and 1990s NBA.

    Barkley, Wilkins, Dumars enter Hall of Fame
    The Associated Press, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2006
    SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts Charles Barkley played the comedian during his induction into the U.S. Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday.

    But, behind the scenes, he also sounded a lot like a role model.

    He drew laughs by thanking his financial adviser for protecting his money, but threw in a little advice for today's players.

    "I tell all these young kids, the money you make, save it, put it in the bank. That money has to last you the rest of your lifetime, don't waste it," he said.

    At the pre-induction news conference, he also took those players to task for a selfish style, and pointed to his own highlight films for those looking for an example of how the game should be played.

    "I always tried as hard as I possibly could," Barkley said. "I like seeing that on tape. Today, they want to be stars. They don't want to be great players. We wanted to be great players."

    Barkley was enshrined with two other NBA greats, Dominique Wilkins and Joe Dumars, Italian coach Sandro Gamba, former U.S. college commissioner Dave Gavitt, and University of Connecticut women's coach Geno Auriemma.

    Barkley averaged 22 points and almost 12 rebounds in 16 NBA seasons that included stops in Philadelphia, Phoenix and Houston. But it was his charismatic personality and outspoken style that made him a superstar.

    He put that style on display on Friday, with one liners about not finishing his college education and being arrested several times.

    "I was always acquitted," he said.

    But there was a message behind the humor.

    He made headlines in a 1993 Nike television spot, when he solemnly warned the audience, "I am not a role model. . . parents should be role models."

    He said on Friday that he was proud he started that conversation, and believes he is supposed to do great things with the fame that basketball has given him.

    "Basketball is really important and significant in my life, but it's the least important thing," he said. "When I was able to give a million dollars to buy houses for the (Hurricane Katrina) evacuees, that was more important to me than anything I ever accomplished on the basketball court."

    Dumars was the good guy on the Bad Boys, the Detroit Pistons teams in 1989 and 1990 that won NBA championships, and also included more high-profile stars, such as Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman.

    "I wasn't concerned about the marquee board," said Dumars, who played his entire 14-year career in Detroit. "That's never mattered to me and I gladly let others step forward and do that. If there was a championship that year, then my whole focus was just that."

    Like Barkley, Wilkins never won a championship. But he was a nine-time NBA All-Star and a two-time NBA Slam Dunk champion known as "the Human Highlight Film" for his above-the-rim acrobatics.

    "At a time when our league was being elevated, he was iconic for what he could do with the basketball," said NBA commissioner David Stern.

    Wilkins said he wants to be remembered for being a complete player.

    "Dunking was just a small part of my game," he said. "Dunking was just an intimidating tool I used. I had a much more rounded game than just dunking. To get 26,000 points, you don't get them all on dunks."

    Gamba began playing basketball to rehabilitate hands injured when he was hit by machine gun fire as a 12-year-old boy during World War II.

    He coached in European basketball for more than three decades, including four consecutive Italian Olympic teams from 1980-92. His team won a silver medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics and gold at the 1983 European Championships.

    Auriemma already has five U.S. college championship trophies at Connecticut and is closing in on winning his 600th career game next season. He joins UConn men's coach Jim Calhoun in the Hall of Fame.

    Gavitt helped form the U.S. Big East college league in 1979 and served as its first commissioner. Gavitt also was president of USA Basketball and is credited with putting together the original 1992 Dream Team that won the gold medal in Barcelona, a team that featured Barkley, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.

    "Barkley was the best player on that team," Gavitt said.
    Fittingly, Dumars slips in Hall of Fame under the radar (source)
    DETROIT (AP) -- Joe Dumars is going into the Basketball Hall of Fame just as he played -- under the radar.

    Making all the noise, drawing all the attention Friday night will be two other inductees -- Charles Barkley and Dominique Wilkins. Barkley, no doubt, will have the most entertaining speech. Wilkins will monopolize the highlight tapes.

    Dumars plans to stay nice and quiet, in keeping with the way he acted as a player and conducts himself as the Detroit Pistons' president of basketball operations.

    "It's only befitting that I go in with a couple guys like Charles and Dominique because it typifies my 14 years in the NBA," Dumars said in an interview with The Associated Press this week. "And it's absolutely the way I would prefer to go into the Hall of Fame."

    Unlike Barkley and Wilkins, Dumars was an NBA champion. He was the MVP of the 1989 NBA finals and helped Detroit repeat the next year.

    "The three of us are getting to the same mountain top as players, using three different routes," Dumars said. "You're either a Hall of Famer based on championships or numbers, and I'm 100 percent comfortable and happy with the route I've taken."

    Detroit drafted Dumars with the 18th pick overall in 1985, and the skinny, unknown shooting guard from McNeese State spent his entire 14-year career with Pistons -- the longest any player has played for the franchise.

    "What's great about only playing for one team is that when people think about your career, they don't have to piece it together," he said. "They don't have to say, 'What did he do there?' or 'Did he win a title there?' If people think about my career, they only think about the Pistons, and I like that."

    Dumars, elected in his second year of eligibility, might not be a Hall of Fame player because of any one facet of his game, but his versatility earned him a spot among the game's all-time stars.

    "Nobody deserves it more than Joe," Pistons owner Bill Davidson said.

    Michael Jordan has said Dumars was the toughest defender to score against in the NBA, helping him earn a spot on the All-Defensive team four times. The shooting guard averaged a relatively modest 16.1 points and 4.5 assists.

    "Arguably, he helped form one of the greatest backcourts in NBA history, with Vinny [Johnson], Joe and myself," Hall of Fame point guard Isiah Thomas said in a statement released by the New York Knicks, a franchise he leads as coach and president. "He was a Hall of Fame player and Hall of Fame person. His contributions to our game of basketball far exceed what he has done on the court."

    Dumars was the good guy on the Bad Boys, a person respected so much that the NBA created the Joe Dumars Trophy after he won the league's sportsmanship award following the 1995-96 season.

    "To the people closest to me, that awards means as much or more than anything," he said. "It solidifies how you carried yourself for a very long time in the public eye."

    Dumars' path to the Hall of Fame began in the dusty backyard of his parents' home in Natchitoches, La.

    "The light from a liquor store turned off at midnight, so that's when my imaginary games ended," he said. "In the summer, I bet I spent about six hours a day out there shooting -- mostly by myself. My mom and dad always knew where I was because they could hear me dribbling."

    Dumars will be presented by Thomas in Springfield, Mass., where people from Louisiana and Michigan will gather to celebrate.

    "The most special thing will be that people from my childhood, college and NBA career will all be there with me in one place for the first time in my life," Dumars said. "It's going to be an overwhelming and emotional time for me."
    'Nique's journey to the Hall (source)
    Dominique Wilkins celebrates induction with people he loves By SEKOU SMITH, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Springfield, Mass. — Dominique Wilkins was popping Pringles, sipping water and singing along to Stevie Wonder just before 5 a.m. Wednesday, losing himself, at least for a moment, in the mind-boggling journey that ends with Friday night's induction ceremony into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

    But as the luxurious, 40-foot RV that served as his chariot hugged the curves of the highway a few blocks from where he grew up in Baltimore, Wilkins snapped out of his euphoric trance and glanced over his shoulder to make sure his most precious cargo was safe and comfortable.

    His wife, Robin, sat cradling their newborn son, Jacob Dominique Wilkins, who was officially a week old Wednesday, was adjusting his fragile 20-inch frame into a more comfortable position.

    "He came out perfect, without a problem," Wilkins said while driving in a moment when the several media cameras tracking his family's every move were finally pointed elsewhere. "I've felt anxious and nervous all at once. Getting on this RV to make this trip was the first time it really hit me, though. You realize how important all this is and that it's truly a once in a lifetime thing to go into the Hall of Fame.

    "But that little guy right there makes everything perfect for me. I couldn't imagine being here or making this trip without him."

    Memory lane

    For Wilkins the trip bounced back and forth between a nostalgic joy ride he could share with his family and the emotional roller coaster that has marked his now Hall of Fame career. He expected to gain entry last year but was passed over and had to wait.

    Yet, while the whole world focuses on the Human Highlight Film, Dominique Wilkins' focus never wavered from his newborn son, whom Wilkins said personifies all that he was then, is now and will be in the future.

    "That's a 7-footer right there," Wilkins said looking over his shoulder repeatedly at his wife and son. "Look at his feet. Look at his hands. He's got my ears, there's no question about that. He's definitely got my ears. ... But it's like this was meant to be, this trip, sharing it with my wife and my sons and the rest of my family. It's a blessing that I didn't plan on."

    Robin wasn't sure she and Jacob would make the 21-hour trip, which climaxed Wednesday afternoon with a surreal, behind-the-scenes peek at the preparations for tonight's ceremony.

    Jacob wasn't scheduled to join the rest of the family for at least another month. Yet there they were, mother and son, along with seven other family members and four media members, gliding along the highway, en route to Wilkins' date with basketball immortality.

    "I was devastated when she [her doctor] said I couldn't go," Robin said. "I was just crushed. It was unbelievable. They told me that Jacob might have to stay in the hospital for a week or two, so we still didn't think we'd be able to go. It just so happened that he's fairly strong and healthy, even though he's a preemie. That's why the lack of sleep and rest has been entirely worth it. Because Dom has been on cloud nine getting ready for this day, and now it's here. And I didn't want his mind to be anywhere else."

    City protectors
    Sharing the 1,030-mile journey with his children (his 10-year-old son, Isaiah, was also on board) and the rest of his family is what made the trip so appealing to Wilkins. It was, he said, like retracing the steps of his life on the way to what will stand as his greatest achievement as a player.

    A stop for gas near his old Baltimore neighborhood came hours after a dinner stop in Concord, N.C., in which Wilkins didn't last 10 minutes before the entire Cracker Barrel restaurant, from the manager, kitchen and serving staff and patrons, began the steady parade of autograph and picture requests for one of basketball's true living legends — only 129 players have been enshrined thus far.

    "We were maybe six or seven miles from where I grew up, and it's an eerie feeling to be near here now with my life coming full circle in ways that I never imagined," Wilkins said. "When I was growing up around here, this was the area with the highest crime rate in America. But I had a free pass. There was an order on the street that I wasn't to be messed with. If you did, you were going to have a problem. That was the code. Because I played basketball and the guys that ran the streets believed I had the talent to make it out of there. I could go to any court on any block and it was no problems. And I'll never forget those guys for what they did for me. They taught me how to play the game. They taught me to respect the game."

    When he returned to his old stomping grounds a few years ago, Wilkins assumed all those guys would be dead and gone, victims to the life he escaped when he relocated to North Carolina for high school.

    He was wrong.

    "This cat named Big Harold is the guy that got me started in this thing," Wilkins continued. "He had a smooth jump shot and a crazy handle. He was strong, too, one of those guys that in my opinion was a playground legend. And he was right there when I came back. It was an awesome feeling to see him after all those years still here."

    Just as awesome, he said, as the feeling he had when the members of his new family decided to accompany him on his pilgrimage to the Hall of Fame.

    Wilkins shared driving duties with his father-in-law, James "Grand" Taylor, who served as the trip's official captain, navigator, RV technician and all-around man-in-charge. Meanwhile, his mother-in-law, Julie Taylor, and sister-in-law, Jill Collins, helped Robin tend to the baby and the other children, Jill's daughter, Genesis, and her son, Alex.

    "They're all more excited for me more than anything else," he said. "Isaiah was so happy for me it touched off something in me. He was like 'can I be there with you to see everything.' That's when this all hit home for me.

    "Because it's always been about family for me. And having them come up and be a part of this is what makes it special. I've got my brother [Gerald] coming up and my nephew [Damien] and hopefully my mom and my sisters. It's great to have the people who mean the most to you here to witness this and be a part of what's going on."

    Time with family
    With 1,030 miles to cover without an overnight stop there was plenty of time for jokes, card games, homework, movies, naps, stories, sightseeing, snacks and non-stop doting on Jacob, who remained the center of most everyone's attention from the time Taylor guided the RV from the front of Wilkins' Lilburn house Tuesday afternoon.

    "I'm really looking forward to hear what Dom has to say [Friday night]," his father-in-law said while filling the 100-gallon gas tank during a stop in Virginia. "Dom is known as a guy who always speaks from the heart, so I'm eager to hear what he has to say. I know he has a speech prepared, but I don't expect him to stick to the script."

    Wilkins said he tossed out the script a while ago. Robin explained it best.

    "There's been a lot of adjustment for us this year," she said. "We moved into the house in December, got married in January, found out we were pregnant Jan. 19, so we basically got pregnant the night we got married, and haven't stopped going since."

    Jacob's early arrival and the scramble to get everything in order for the trip didn't allow Robin the normal time to recuperate. The rest of the family went to work, Wilkins said, as they have done throughout what became an exhausting eight months.

    Robin and her oldest sister, Charcy Williams, spent Labor Day weekend scouring the malls in Atlanta for preemie clothes for Jacob. Bags had to be packed and loaded. Food had to be prepared. The children had to be signed out of school early Tuesday. Robin and Jacob had to make one last doctor's appointment Tuesday afternoon before the departure.

    "My goal," Robin said with a smile while holding Jacob, "is to do nothing whenever we get home."

    Home is a few days away. There is tonight's ceremony, before a crowd of more than a thousand, and more activities Saturday morning. And then another 21 hours back to Atlanta.

    "This is the closure I need for myself after all these years and all that's gone on," Wilkins said. "This takes away all the injustices I've experienced. There is no higher plateau I could be on right now. This lasts forever. That's why I wanted the kids to see it, and maybe one day, years from now, they can bring their kids here to see all this.

    "And really it's not just me and my family alone. I hope this is a special time for the city of Atlanta and the entire state of Georgia. The people, the fans, they've always treated me like a native son, and it's always felt like my home. And just like being in the Hall of Fame, that feeling inside of you stands the test of time. So when I really think about it, there were more than 13 or 14 people that made this trip. A whole lot more."
    Last edited by stuart; 09-12-2006 at 05:05 AM.

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    Some more articles on Dominique Wilkins, Joe Dumars and Charles Barkley...

    Long road to Hall for Wilkins (source)
    By THOMAS STINSON, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Published on: 09/09/06 -- Departure time was four hours off and Dominique Wilkins, girding for the most momentous trip of his basketball life, was chasing down his checklist, a one-man half-court press.

    He had to make a stop at the Atlanta Hawks office, where he serves as a vice president. The small mountain of baby gear for his 1-week-old son Jacob — already a hulking 20 inches long despite arriving five weeks early — had to be stowed. The family RV was gassed and ready for packing out on the curb of his Lilburn house.

    Dominique Wilkins and his wife, Robin, share a final moment together in their hotel room before leaving for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. 'It's been his childhood dream,' Robin said.

    The drive from Atlanta to Springfield, Mass., would be 1,030 miles. For Wilkins, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, the journey has spanned 46 years, much of it spent in mid-air, where he emulated his hero, Julius Erving.

    "Hey, I was his biggest fan," Wilkins said. "I remember grabbing my mom's wig at home, one of those Halloween wigs, and running around the house, jumping up and down, thinking, 'I'm the Doctor.' "

    The same Dr. J introduced Wilkins at the induction ceremony, where he was the first Hawks player to gain admittance since Bob Pettit in 1971. Only 129 players have been enshrined (Charles Barkley and Joe Dumars were inducted with Wilkins). To say he is gratified barely touches the emotion.

    "He's genuinely excited all over again, that the recognition has come," said his wife, Robin. "Last year, we were a little sad [when Wilkins was passed over]. But it's been his childhood dream."

    The NBA's No. 9 all-time scorer (26,668 points), a nine-time All-Star, a two-time dunking champion, Wilkins defined the Hawks franchise during its most successful period, Atlanta's Air Force. Yet cast in the same period as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan, he found himself sharing a very crowded stage, even long after his retirement.

    "Crowded? More than crowded. We had people hanging off the train," Wilkins said. "I don't think people ever really appreciated what I've done, especially during that era, one of the greatest eras in history, almost all of the greatest players in one era.

    "To not play with another superstar and to carry a team to the playoffs eight out of 12 years is a pretty amazing feat. I don't think people really appreciated that, until now. It wasn't by accident."

    It was in those categories with no statistics that Wilkins endeared himself within the organization. Nearly indestructible — he missed 18 of a possible 738 games until a Achilles tendon injury in 1992 — Wilkins' reputation for hard play endured throughout his career. Off the court, he was management's dream: fan-friendly and clean-living in a period when the NBA saw an upswing in drug troubles.

    "The more NBA players you watch over a long period of time, you just never see guys who enjoy the game and work as hard at it as he did every night, till the very end. Always," said Stan Kasten, who as Hawks general manager in 1982 swung a deal with Utah for Wilkins, in exchange for John Drew, Freeman Williams and $1 million. "He never let up. He never changed his enthusiasm, never changed his effort.

    "Boy, how valuable is that? More and more, as you look at other players to compare him to, you just can't find those qualities."

    Perhaps, but the NBA seemed otherwise inclined, leaving Wilkins off its 50th anniversary team 10 years ago. He was similarly overlooked when the first Dream Team was assembled for the 1992 Olympics. Nor did the Hawks ever win it all when Wilkins was in full flight. If these were the blights on his record, then he finds some atonement in Springfield.

    "He should have been in the top 50 hands down and no argument," said Kevin Willis, Wilkins' running mate at forward much of his career. "This solidifies his game, him as a man, for what he's given to the game of basketball."

    Bulldogs get some bite
    That he ever wound up in Georgia was a long shot. Bulldogs coach Hugh Durham out-recruited the country when he signed Wilkins out of Washington (N.C.) High School, where his teams had gone 76-1. Not only had Georgia never won an SEC title, but also the Bulldogs had gone seven years without a winning season.

    Durham still recalls an early practice while his team was working on the half-court trap. A pass made in frustration, he recalled, "looked like it was going up into the stands someplace, outside the lane on the right, and Dominique just kept going up and up and up and caught it and slammed it down. And everything went quiet."

    Wilkins would become a three-time all-SEC pick, ushered the Bulldogs to back-to-back 19-win seasons and set up the team for a run into the Final Four in 1984, the year after he left for the NBA. By then, the Human Highlight Film designation had stuck.

    "He captured the imagination of not just Georgia fans but basketball fans," Durham said. "If you were living in Georgia, you could have been an Auburn fan but you were a Dominique fan. You wanted to see Dominique play."

    Though Utah used the third pick in the 1983 draft to get him, the player that would report to Atlanta was not ready for NBA service. The Hawks were transitioning between the Drew-Dan Roundfield era and a new running team under rookie coach Mike Fratello. He found his new forward to be shy, unpolished but eminently coachable.

    Fratello's scouting report: "He couldn't shoot, and he couldn't dribble. He was a terrific athlete with tremendous natural talent, but he wasn't a basketball player yet. He had his choices. He could grow or he could stay the same."

    He grew as a team was constructed around him. Willis and Doc Rivers would become All-Stars. Wilkins, honing a dangerous jump shot off the dribble, rushed the wings night after night and became the only Hawks player to lead the league in scoring (30.3 points in the 1985-86 season).

    "I used my quickness to stay ahead of the double team," Wilkins said. "And then once I left the floor, it didn't matter."

    "'Nique was just a fierce competitor, a guy who loved to accept challenges and came in every night and was ready to play," Willis said. "He loved the excitement that the game brought to him, the fans, just being that guy that everybody had to rally behind."

    The battle of Boston
    The team would produce four straight 50-win seasons, cresting with the 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals. Up

    3-2 against Boston, the Hawks failed to close out the series in Game 6 in the Omni and concluded the season on a historic Sunday afternoon in Boston Garden.

    While Bird never was better while scoring 34 points, Wilkins went for 47 and put his team ahead seven times in the fourth quarter in what still stands as the most brilliant game in Atlanta history. The Celtics closed out the series 114-111, and that game still runs in the back of Wilkins' mind.

    "If you have to make excuses for the game, why play?" Wilkins said. "And I was never a guy who made excuses. 'Why didn't you do this? Why didn't you win a championship?' No, it didn't happen. Yeah, you're upset, and it hurts you to a point. But it never stopped me from trying.

    "I think when you go back to what people think [about me], what I did as a player back in the day, because I did it for so long and it seemed so easy for me to do, people didn't appreciate it. People would say, ''Nique's going to go to the bank on them,' and they didn't know how hard that was to do, night in and night out.

    "The thing of it is, if I didn't get 25, 30, 35 [points] a night, we didn't win. People don't realize how difficult that was. There was no hand check [regulation] back then, no flagrant fouls. You could use your elbows. You could use your knee. There were nights I got beat up in the paint. But I never made excuses because, hey, this is part of the game."

    The Air Force didn't win another playoff series in three years of trying. Though Wilkins recovered from the 1992 Achilles injury, Kasten traded him in 1994 for the Los Angeles Clippers' Danny Manning, only 11 days after Wilkins played in his ninth and final All-Star game.

    The franchise has never been the same.

    Rolling forward
    "It's easy to forget about it now, but there was a wide-spread media impression in those years that we never could win because of Dominique," Kasten said. "I always thought, and I said so at the time, that all those people were always wrong.

    "Whatever we accomplished during the decade we won, we did because of him, not in spite of him, as his critics would often plaint."

    He would play four more NBA seasons, starting 64 games for the Celtics in 1995, before retiring in 1999 at age 39. No player has done so much for the advancement of basketball, not just in Atlanta but for all Georgia.

    "He's probably the most underrated player of our generation," said Barkley, who remains one of Wilkins' biggest fans. "He carried the Hawks. When you went to Atlanta, you had to bring it ... because of him."

    Balancing his new son on his lap — "Look," he said, "he's got the ears" — Wilkins is no longer the 48-minute warrior. If he shot too recklessly, if his Hawks underachieved, if he could never win it all, there are worse fates in life. Long ago, Wilkins reconciled with his career.

    "Look, if you don't, you'll tear yourself up from worrying about it," he said.

    "And I'm not going to do that to myself."

    Right. The man had an RV to drive those 1,030 miles. Right to the Hall of Fame.
    Barkley's big night about to become real (source)
    Charles Barkley never won an NBA title, but he's still leading the way for the Class of 1984. By David Aldridge, Inquirer Staff Writer

    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Rick Mahorn played only a couple of seasons with Charles Barkley while with the 76ers, and they were good teammates and friends. But he was nonetheless surprised when Barkley called him and invited him to his induction ceremony at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

    "He got a room for me and everything, but I couldn't make it," Mahorn said yesterday. Mahorn is an assistant coach for the WNBA's Detroit Shock, who are tied at two games apiece with the Sacramento Monarchs in the WNBA Finals. "He doesn't forget where he came from. That's the good thing about him."

    Mahorn may not be in attendance tonight for the induction ceremonies, but there will be an armada of former teammates, coaches and family in the Barkley camp.

    Barkley is the first member of the storied draft class of 1984 - considered one of the top two or three classes in league history - to make the Hall. That class is a Who's Who of recent NBA gentry, including Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon and John Stockton.

    But Barkley did not capture that elusive championship, as Jordan and Olajuwon did.

    "You're not in control of the championship thing," Barkley said last week. "When I was in Philly, we had the No. 1 pick in the draft and traded it. That's why I like [former Suns owner Jerry] Colangelo. He gave me a chance. He put enough players around me. We had three legit chances to win the championship. They didn't do that in Philly."

    Barkley headlines a strong 2006 Hall of Fame class. Joining him will be Dominique Wilkins, the "Human Highlight Film"; Pistons guard and current team president Joe Dumars; Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma; former Big East and Celtics executive Dave Gavitt; and Italian coach Sandro Gamba.

    Wilkins, ninth in league history in scoring with 26,668 points, a nine-time all-star, and two-time slam-dunk-contest winner, was thought to be a shoo-in for induction in 2005, his first year of eligibility. When he was not selected, there was an uproar.

    But voters soon changed their minds, goaded in part by people like Barkley, who made Wilkins' induction a cause celebre.

    "I think they just realized I belong, plain and simple," Wilkins said soon after being elected into the Hall. "You have your peers that understand what you did in this league. [Barkley] has been my biggest fan. All of that comes into play. But my career speaks for itself."

    Auriemma has won five NCAA championships at Connecticut, including two unbeaten seasons, since becoming head coach in Storrs in 1985. He's also been named national head coach of the year five times.

    Dumars won two championships as a player for the Pistons (including winning Finals MVP honors in 1989) and built another championship-winning Detroit team in 2004 as the team's president.

    Gavitt, the former Providence College coach, helped build the Big East into a college conference powerhouse on the strength of national television exposure and a series of NCAA contenders, including the 1985 Villanova national championship squad.

    Gamba, a former Olympian for Italy, led his country to a silver medal at the 1980 Summer Games and a gold at the 1983 European championships. He coached the Italian team in international competition for 13 years.
    Last edited by stuart; 09-12-2006 at 05:06 AM.

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    Default some more...

    A couple more articles...

    Barkley grateful for assists (source)
    During his playing days and even now as an NBA studio analyst for TNT, Charles Barkley has never been one to shy away from the spotlight.

    On Friday, when he is enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, Sir Charles said he intends to step back into the shadows and deflect the rays onto those who helped him achieve this highest of honors.

    “This weekend is going to be about the people who helped me get to the Hall of Fame,” Barkley said Tuesday during a news conference at US Airways Center. “I’ve had a magnificent life so it’s ain’t like I needed this so that, ‘Oh, I made it.’

    “It’s been great for me pretty much the entire time. What I want to do with this Hall of Fame thing is thank the people who helped me get to the Hall of Fame.”

    Putting others first is a common theme in Barkley’s life these days. The former Suns great has taken the energy he used on the court while earning the nickname the “Round Mound of Rebound” and focused it on giving back to the community in an effort to improve the lives of others. As an example, over the past year Barkley has bought $1 million worth of houses for those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

    “That was a really big deal for me because I can’t believe in the United States I can see people on television for two or three days begging for food and water,” he said. “That shouldn’t happen here. We’re the best country in the world.”

    And Barkley intends to do more. While he has talked off and on over the past several years about running for governor of Alabama, Barkley said Tuesday he is “very serious” about being on the ballot in 2014.

    “You have to live there seven years, so I’m looking for a house there as we speak,” said Barkley, who still resides in the Valley.

    Barkley said he isn’t going to affiliate himself with any political party for the time being.

    “I’m an independent,” he said. “I think Republicans are full of it and Democrats are a little less full of it.”

    But no matter what ticket he runs on, “I want to speak for people who can’t speak for themselves. America discriminates against poor people. America is divided by economics. If you’re born poor white, black or Hispanic you’re going to be in a bad neighborhood. You’re going to go to a bad school. That’s not right. . . .

    “Just living in this world you see the discrepancy between the rich and the poor. It’s not getting closer. It’s just getting wider every year. It’s very frustrating for me as a person who started there (poor). I said to myself, ‘Man, if I couldn’t have played basketball that would have been me.’ You just can’t sit back and let that happen. I’m going to keep doing that, speaking out. . . .

    “I think I’ve been really blessed in my life. If I was just to be rich and famous and have a big house and a big car and live happily every after, I think I’d let the big fella down who gave me the gift to get to the Hall of Fame. I truly believe that.”
    Wilkins 'the nicest superstar' (source)
    Several close to Wilkins share their memories of the latest inductee into Basketball Hall of Fame

    JOE O'TOOLE Retired Hawks trainer
    I recall learning that we've traded John Drew, one of our best players, for a first-round draft pick from the University of Georgia, a school known more for its football abilities than basketball. Oh well, if we can trade Pistol Pete and Lou Hudson I guess anything is possible. Sometimes I forget professional sport is a business.

    Dominique who? It would be the last time I would utter these words.
    We were having an informal pre-preseason workout at the Sporting Club the first time I met Dominique. My first memory of 'Nique is of him standing flat-footed under the basket and going up and slamming the basketball. I was impressed. He continued to impress me for the 11-plus seasons he played for the Hawks.

    Over the years many things about Dominique come to mind, none more impressive than his passion to play the game. During the 1988 playoffs in Boston [Game 5], 'Nique accidentally kicked the hotel TV stand, splitting the little toenail all the way back to the skin. I remember him coming to the arena with the toe wrapped in a tissue. He came back to the locker room, from shooting around, and said he just couldn't run without pain, we had to do something. After having his nail bed injected, he played the entire game. What I remember most is Dominique's blood-soaked sock after the game. We won that game to lead the series 3-2 with the next game at home in the Omni.

    As many of you know, the series was extended to a Game 7, and that was the game where the last five minutes were totally controlled by Larry Bird and Dominique. It was run-and-gun, back-and-forth action.

    I remember thinking if we have the ball for the last possession we could win. It was the most exciting exhibition of tension-filled basketball I ever witnessed. Dominique was exceptional that series, averaging 31 points per game.

    In the middle of the 1991-92 season Dominique ruptured his Achilles tendon. His injury put an end to our playoff hopes. I can still hear him telling me on the "QT" that he shot around a little even though he was still in his cast following surgery. It was almost impossible for him to give his repair time to heal. He kept assuring me that he would be all right, not to worry, he would be back. And he came back with a vengeance, having the second-best year of his career at the age of 34, averaging nearly 30 points and playing in 71 games. 'Nique was a scoring machine that season. I remember Coach [Bob] Weiss commenting that if Dominique were in a phone booth with two opposing players he would think he was open for the shot.

    While I still forget sometimes that professional sport is a business, it was a sad day when Dominique was traded. It was a shame his career could not end in a Hawks uniform.

    On a personal note, during my time with the Hawks we endured two family tragedies, and Dominique was so kind. We were both comforted and impressed that he would make the effort to visit us at our home. The following seasons he was always looking out for me. Dominique is, to this day, a very special friend to our family, and we are happy to share in this moment with him.

    ARTHUR TRICHE Hawks VP of public relations
    Prior to joining the Hawks, I watched a lot of Dominique's high-flying abilities when I lived in New Orleans, whether it was from his SEC days (and listening to Joe Dean literally come out of his seat) or his early years in Atlanta when the games were carried on the Superstation, and I always appreciated his all-around skills.

    I never imagined that I would have gotten the chance to see him live on a nightly basis from one of the best seats in the house, and I can honestly say I have had the fortune of watching one of the most humble and underappreciated athletes in my lifetime.

    No matter what the armchair quarterbacks had to say, Dominique earned the respect of his teammates by working hard every game and practicing hard every day. Some of the stars of today could learn a lot from the players from that era — which in my opinion, was some of the best collection of talent the NBA had ever seen on a nightly basis.

    It was truly a shame we traded him when we were en route to a franchise-tying 57 wins and our last Central Division title. We can only speculate on how we would have finished that season, but I believed that team could have done some serious damage in the postseason and cast aside many of the so-called shortcomings of never getting past the second round.

    In addition, it also might have made a difference if 'Nique and the Hawks didn't play nightly in the Central Division against the quality of teams like the Pistons, the Bulls, the Cavs and the Bucks, but he led by example and put this franchise on his back many nights.

    He never complained, whether it involved losing the slam dunk title to MJ in Chicago, or the unbelievable omission from the 50 Greatest Players list, or even last year's snub from Hall of Fame voters, and it brings us to today — the proudest moment of his basketball career. I'm happy to have watched him as an athlete, and more importantly, to know him as a friend, and he is very deserving of this honor.

    'Nique, the wait is over. Congratulations.

    HUGH DURHAM Former University of Georgia coach
    Dominique just jumped out at you, to make a play on words. We saw him in the summer at the BC camp down in Milledgeville. That was a tremendous year for basketball players. They had Sam Bowie and Ralph Sampson and Antoine Carr. I mean, it was loaded.

    But like I said, Dominique was there, too, and he just jumped out at us. Roger Banks, one of our assistants at the time, basically said, "We've got to have this guy." Basically what we saw in him was more than just a player. That was our first full recruiting year at Georgia, and to get a great player like that was enough, but to get one that was also an entertainer like Dominique was even better. If we could persuade him to come to Georgia, he would be the type of player we needed to get our program off to a jump-start.

    He had an immediate impact. We had a game against Kentucky at the Omni in Atlanta. We didn't win, but it was sold out and they were scalping tickets. We beat LSU when they were ranked fifth in the country, and we beat Alabama on the road. We were 9-3 and had knocked off Vanderbilt by more than 20, then Dominique got hurt. He was on his way to being freshman of the year— in the country, not just the SEC.

    The next year, we got beat in the finals of the SEC tournament and won 19 games. Dominique averaged 23 a game and led the league in scoring. He gave a lot of consideration to turning pro at that time, but he made the decision to stay. He had another really good year in '82 and then made the move. He was taken No. 3 in the draft.

    It was good for Dominique and it was great for Atlanta and basketball in the state of Georgia for him to end up with the Atlanta Hawks. As I said before, we saw that entertainer power in him back when he was in high school. It really took off once he got into the NBA.

    Whether you were a Hawks fan or not, people loved to watch Dominique Wilkins play.

    The thing I liked most about Dominique — there were so many things I liked — I liked that he loved to play. He wanted to get the most out of his ability. He practiced hard. I didn't have to get on to Dominique about working hard. Any coach who had the opportunity to work with Dominique will tell you that he flat out brought it. And when it was game time, didn't matter if he had a sore back or a sore leg or a sore shoulder, he played and he played hard. From a coach's standpoint, that's what you loved.
    I was disappointed when Dominique was left off that NBA top 50 of all-time list. He was definitely in the top 50. I was disappointed when he didn't make the Dream Team in 1992. So I was really happy to see they finally got it right with his induction into the Hall of Fame.

    I'm happy for Dominique because he earned it. It has validated his impact on the game of basketball.

    It's nice to be appreciated in your hometown. It's even nicer to be appreciated on the national stage. I think Dominique has now achieved all of that.

    STAN KASTEN Former Hawks president
    I first saw Dominique Wilkins play while he was at the University of Georgia. Three things were immediately apparent. Number one, he could jump out of the gym. Number two, he could not shoot. Number three, he did not care that he could not shoot, he was going to shoot anyway.

    Some things never change, and thank goodness that it didn't. As his career developed, the endless shots, the endless practice turned him into a formidable shooter as well as, of course, one of the greatest scorers in the history of the NBA.

    His rookie season showed us things we had never seen before. In the first exhibition we played in Jacksonville, 'Nique drove the baseline for an impressive double-clutch dunk. The referee blew off the basket and called 'Nique for traveling, believing no one could travel that much distance without coming down.

    But a replay clearly showed his feet never touched down as he swooped to the basket.

    In our first regular-season game at the Omni, we missed a shot which bounced high. Those of us watching the rebound tended to focus on the ball above the rim. But from out of our peripheral vision, and out of the frame of the TV picture, came a flying hand, putting back a ferocious rebound dunk. I'd never seen that before.

    We saw it many times from then on.

    But as much as we marveled at his athletic ability, what brought him to greatness was his passion for playing basketball. Oh sure, every night, every game. But also every practice, every offseason. He played with energy and joy and worked on all aspects of his game. Dribbling, shooting, shot blocking. And this effort was the same in his last game as it was in his first. Some things never change.

    Some other things, of course, do change. A year or so ago, I asked 'Nique whether he could still dunk. He looked at me seeming almost hurt at the question. Of course he could still dunk. He told me how he had just demonstrated it a week earlier for one of the people in the office. He had stood under the basket and went straight up for a two handed dunk. I told him how impressed I was that he could do it flat-footed and hadn't even needed to run up to the basket. He burst out laughing. "Stan", he confessed, "the run would have killed me."

    In the ultra-competitive world of the NBA, no one has ever had anything but affection for 'Nique. The players who were his peers — Julius Erving, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Charles Barkley — could debate any subject. But they all agreed how much they loved 'Nique.

    His respect for everyone through accolades and insults. His sweetness of disposition, his kindness of spirit and his generosity to all who knew him. The things that last long beyond the court were the things that stood out above everything else.

    He was the nicest superstar I had ever met. He still is.

    Some things never change.

    And now he takes his rightful place among his peers. In the Hall of Fame.

    STEVE HOLMAN Hawks radio announcer
    I have so many great memories of Dominique with the Hawks over the years it is difficult to pick out the best of the best.

    I do know that whenever I am asked about 'Nique, I always say the same thing. He made every night special. There was always at least one thing he did every night that would make you happy you were at the game.

    I remember most his pure joy of playing each and every game. A lot of players talk about how much they love to play, but Dominique meant it, and showed us all every game.

    Sure we all remember him winning the slam dunk contests, but he would routinely make dunks in games that are now only even dreamed of in dunk contests. His flying in for offensive rebound dunks, seemingly coming out of the roof to dunk in traffic, are the plays I remember the most.

    I had the privilege of calling most of his games in a Hawks uniform, including the night at the Omni when he became the Hawks' all-time leading scorer. Of course, the great Game 7 against [Larry] Bird and the Celtics we see over and over on [ESPN] Classic. However, I remember Game 5 of that series as well, the game the Hawks won at the Garden to go up 3-2 in the series and stun the Boston crowd.

    In all my years of broadcasting there were only two times that I almost broke down on the air. The night when 'Nique tore the Achilles. And his last night in a Hawks uniform.

    When they took him off the floor with the injury, we all thought maybe this was it for 'Nique and it really hit me hard, especially because he had never been seriously injured, and even when it seemed he would miss games he always managed to get out there and play.

    The night he was traded was a tough night for everyone involved with the team. He had heard all the rumors of a trade and knew this would be his last game for the Hawks. Lenny Wilkens also knew it and got very sentimental at the end the game, when 'Nique led the team to a furious fourth-quarter comeback win against Seattle. Lenny, who many had felt pushed to trade Dominique (Lenny always called him Dominick), gave him a big hug, and the crowd sensing this was it gave No. 21 a thunderous ovation.

    Before that game, while 'Nique was out warming up a couple of hours before tipoff, I asked him to do something we had never done before. Take a picture with me. I wanted something special to remember the Greatest Atlanta Hawk of all time, and I cherish that picture, along with his friendship to this day.

    I have waited all these years to get him to sign the picture, so he can sign it with HOF after his name.

    I couldn't be prouder and happier for Dominique as he joins the greatest of all time in Springfield.

  4. #4
    Administrator stuart's Avatar
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    One more about Dumars:

    Dream come true: Hall of Fame honor caps off Dumars' playing career (source) by Joanne C. Gerstner / The Detroit News

    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- When the phone call came in, Joe Dumars responded in, well, typical Joe Dumars fashion.

    Calm, cool, collected.

    Never mind Dumars was just informed he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame, an honor bestowed on a select few.

    For Dumars, it seemed like an abstract concept.

    But now, as the hours tick down to his formal induction today, Dumars' measured demeanor isn't so measured.

    "It's becoming more and more real to me," said Dumars, 43. "I am going into the Hall of Fame -- it's almost unthinkable. It's the culmination of a career, and in a lot of ways, the final end to my basketball career as a player. It's a dream that started when I was a little kid, like 11, 12 years old, playing basketball for hours in my backyard.

    "I've been doing a lot of thinking over the last few weeks because of this; it's almost like a 'This is Your Life' type of thing."

    Dumars is being enshrined for his storied 14-year Pistons career that produced two NBA titles, six All-Star appearances and an MVP award for the 1989 Finals.

    He is being inducted into the Hall with Geno Auriemma, Charles Barkley, Sandro Gamba, David Gavitt and Dominique Wilkins.

    Dumars realizes entering the Hall required two teams in his life: the Pistons. And his family.

    "I haven't written anything down for my speech -- I never write anything down when I speak -- but that's what I plan to talk about, the people in my life who helped me and shaped me," he said. "My parents, my brothers and sister, my wife, my kids, on and on. And I plan to say thank you to all of them."

    Will Dumars get emotional?

    "Maybe," Dumars said, adding a laugh. "But it's OK. This is a pretty big deal."

    Keeping the faith

    Ophelia Dumars always knew her seven children were special.

    She saw their potential and prayed for their future. She and husband, Joe Dumars II, had six boys and a girl.

    She wanted their house in Natchitoches, La., to be filled with love. And no matter the situation, the Dumarses wanted their children to be good people, work hard, and keep their word.

    Ophelia knew her youngest son, Joe, enjoyed playing basketball. He tried football, like his older brothers, but didn't like the contact.

    So he frequently challenged older brother Mark to basketball games on their homemade hoop in the backyard.

    "Did I ever know when Joe lost," Ophelia said, chuckling at the memory. "He would be so angry because he did not like to lose. Oh, no. He would come in the house and sit by himself and be mad. I don't think Joe takes losing any better today -- he still hates it."

    Ophelia didn't realize the outside world saw greatness in Joe until one day at McNeese State.

    She was sitting in the stands, watching him play.

    "Joe was having another good game, and this lady turns to me and says, 'When Joe goes to the pros, I hope he doesn't change from the person he is,' " Ophelia, now 70, said. "I was a little shocked. Play in the pros? I hadn't even thought about that. So I just nodded and said 'I hope so.' I never said anything to Joe about that, but that opened my eyes a little."

    NBA was new world
    Pursuing a pro basketball career meant a lot of changes in Dumars' life. He was selected 18th in the first round of the 1985 draft by the Pistons.

    For the first time, Dumars would leave the South. His whole life to that point had taken place in Louisiana.

    Moving to Detroit meant leaving his family behind without knowing a soul.

    "It was tough, I won't lie, the first few months up here were kind of lonely and hard," Dumars said. "But I knew I was going to be all right because I had that foundation from home. I had everything I needed to be successful from what my parents taught me."

    But Ophelia took her youngest son's departure hard. It was a big transition: from the symbolic -- her boy was grown; to the practical -- worrying about Joe.

    "I was happy for him, as I knew this was a wonderful opportunity for him to do what he wanted to do," Ophelia said. "But I didn't take it too well, I had to pray a lot to get a calm or a peace about it. I've had sons leave before, including one for the Marines and another to play football in Canada.

    "When Joe left, it was different. He was my baby, my last baby."

    Dumars flourished with the Pistons, soon becoming a critical part of a championship team.

    But off the court, Dumars also found his place. He married Debbie in 1989, giving him another support system.

    The two knew each other since college, but Debbie admits she didn't fully know what she was getting into with the NBA life.

    "There were times I was sitting in our apartment here, alone, when we first got married because Joe was gone with the team," Debbie said. "I was lonely, I didn't know anybody up here but Joe, it was cold outside and I hated it.

    "I knew I had to pick up the slack and Joe really helped me adjust. He helped me grow."

    Family had a lot to juggle

    Soon, the Dumarses had two children, son Jordan and daughter Aren. Debbie was busy raising the children while Joe continued to play basketball.

    As the children grew, and Dumars neared the end of his career around the late '90s, balancing family and work became tougher.

    "I know I missed things in their lives, it's just the nature of being gone so much," Dumars said. "Debbie had a lot of work. When you play basketball at this level, you have to be a little selfish. You need to take care of yourself and what you have to do for the team. When you're young, it's easier to be selfish. It gets harder when you get older."

    Dumars stayed involved as much as possible, even dropping the kids off at school. Debbie would see him come home dead tired from a road trip, yet immediately head outside to play catch with Jordan.

    "I told Joe, 'Your daddy never saw a game you played in your life -- high school, college or pros, yet do you love him any less?' " said Debbie, 47. "He tried to do everything to make up for being gone, but you can't do that. He shouldn't do that. He was gone at work. Both our daddies worked and weren't home at times. That's life."

    The couple had several outside business interests, from owning Detroit Technologies, an auto supply company, to Dumars Travel, run by Debbie.

    Dumars retired from basketball in 1999 and immediately moved into the Pistons front office.

    He found success as president, building a team that won the 2004 NBA title. He was named NBA executive of the year in 2003.

    Pair prioritizes
    It turns out Dumars turned introspective well before his impending Hall of Fame induction.

    He realized some important things in the past year. Dumars was working hard, trying to negotiate his Pistons duties and business interests.

    Debbie was just as busy with her successful travel agency and negotiating the kids' schedules.

    Life became a series of nonstop business phone calls, meetings and BlackBerry messages.

    Meanwhile, son Jordan is now 15, plays basketball and stands 6-foot-5 -- a good two inches taller than his dad. Aren is 13 and loves to play sports, too.

    Time is moving fast, and the children are no longer babies.

    So the Dumarses made some decisions. Dumars sold his company six months ago, making the Pistons his only job. Debbie let go of the travel agency a year ago, lightening her workload.

    Attending Jordan's basketball games are a priority, even if it means joining the Pistons a little late for a road trip. Seeing Aren play volleyball and tennis is important, too.

    Jordan went on road trips with Dumars and the Pistons during the 2006 playoffs, providing additional father-son bonding time.

    "It's about doing what's important, and right now, the Pistons and my family is what's most important," Dumars said. "I was working, and working, and working, and for what? Was it worth what I was giving up? I came to that conclusion and Debbie did, too. It's been the best thing we ever did."

    Debbie enjoys the interaction between the kids and their dad -- they're normal teens who speak their minds. Dumars admits he's turned into his father, a no-nonsense stickler for things being done right.

    "If Joe gets caught up in his BlackBerry or something at dinner, Jordan or Aren will get on him and tell him to put it away," Debbie said.

    "I really enjoy watching them put him in his place. It's good for him."

    It'll be an emotional night

    Forgive Dumars if he grows a little teary-eyed during tonight's induction ceremony. Friend, Pistons teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas will introduce him.

    Then it's Dumars' turn to address the crowd, which will be filled with family, friends, McNeese State coaches and teammates, and past and present members of the Pistons organization.

    "I think about what my dad would say if he were here right now," Dumars said. His father died in 1990, just before Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

    "I can hear him, I know he'd say, 'Boy, can you believe this? Can you believe that one of us, somebody from Natchitoches, is going into the Hall of Fame? Can you believe it? I'm proud of you. You did good.' "

    And Dumars stops speaking, looking out the window of his office at the Pistons practice facility.

    It's getting tougher to stay calm.

  5. #5
    Administrator stuart's Avatar
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    Ok, one more about Barkley...

    Barkley shares his journey to the Hall of Fame (source)
    By David Aldridge, The Philadelphia Inquirer

    SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - It was a night of triumph for Charles Barkley, who, as ever, had his audience rolling in laughter as he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the culmination of a 16-year playing career that took him from Leeds, Ala., to worldwide fame and recognition.

    "I tell people, I'm 43 years old, and I've never had a job," Barkley said during Friday night's ceremony. "And I don't want one, either."

    Giving those in attendance "a quick summation of my life," Barkley - the never-dull, frequently controversial and supremely talented forward who spent his first eight professional seasons playing in Philadelphia with the 76ers - thanked former coaches and players from his native Leeds and Auburn University, and his pro teammates in Philadelphia, Phoenix and Houston.

    He even thanked former 76ers owner Harold Katz, with whom he frequently feuded.

    "It's been a great journey," Barkley said, telling his family, "we don't need government cheese and baloney anymore. We can have filet mignon and creme brulee."

    Barkley was voted into the Hall in his first year of eligibility last April, five years after the end of his career. During that career, Barkley amassed 23,757 points and 12,546 rebounds, made nine All-Star Game appearances, earned a spot on the 1992 Olympic "Dream Team," won the league's 1993 Most Valuable Player award, and was selected as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

    As the fifth pick overall in the 1984 NBA draft, Barkley came to Philadelphia with big expectations. But he quickly found out that the pro game was much different from college. He had starred at Auburn despite carrying several extra pounds on his 6-foot-4 3/4 body - a look that led to one of his more famous nicknames, "the Round Mound of Rebound."

    "I went to Moses Malone," Barkley said, referring to his then-76ers teammate, the best player on the team, and said: `Moses, I want to be a great player. How do I become a great player?' He said, `Two things. You're lazy and you're out of shape.' "

    Over the next few seasons, Barkley lost the weight and gained respect around the league as a premier scorer and rebounder. During his career, his superlative play was almost as memorable as his often-profane quips about the league and life, including his famous proclamation that, despite his wealth and celebrity, he was no role model for children.

    He also lost lots of money gambling and had more than one brush with the law, although charges in all of his cases ultimately were dropped or dismissed.

    He has continued to express himself as an author and a studio commentator for the cable network TNT, though he has recently revived his long-standing flirtation with running for governor of his native Alabama.

    First, though, Barkley has other things to do, such as giving $1 million for new home construction in New Orleans.

    "Basketball is really important and significant in my life, but it's the least important thing," he said. "I'm supposed to do great things with my fame."

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