Charles Barkley played eight great seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers without winning the NBA championship before he was shipped to the Phoenix Suns. Barkley has often bemoaned in past interviews how an aging and so-so supporting cast prevented Philly from becoming an elite title contender.
“Chuck,” on the Bill Simmons podcast, would open up on the biggest reason why his career with the 76ers ended the way it did:
(Starts at 10:46)
“My phone rings about six in the morning and it’s Phil [Jasner]. ‘Phil, why are you calling me man?’ … ‘The 76ers just traded the No.1 pick in the draft.’ And I said to him verbatim, ‘The 76ers are not that stupid.
“And he says, ‘You guys traded Moses [Malone] to DC for Jeff Ruland.’ Jeff Ruland didn’t even play last year. … ‘Are you telling me these nitwits in Philly traded the No. 1 pick in the draft to Cleveland for Roy Hinson who’s a good player and then not only that made it worse you traded Moses?’ ‘Yeah.’
“From that point on, we were no good in Philly, man. Trading Brad Daugherty screwed up my entire Philadelphia career.”
The 1986 NBA Draft had two clear favorites as the top players. One was the late Len Bias, who the Boston Celtics drafted second, and the other was UNC’s Brad Daugherty, college basketball’s best big man.
Charles Barkley was then Philadelphia 76ers’ franchise player with the aging veterans of the 1982-83 title-winning team as his main supporting cast. “Chuck” still had Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Andrew Toney and Maurice Cheeks.
They were still a solid group that reached the Eastern NBA Finals and semifinals before the 1986 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, then 76ers GM Pat Williams didn’t see how they could fit Moses Malone, Brad Daugherty and Barkley in the interior.
Thus, one of the worst trades in NBA history happened and ruined Charles Barkley’s career in the City of Love.
Could Charles Barkley have won the NBA title with Moses Malone and Brad Daugherty?
After the infamous trade, Charles Barkley lost in the first round, was eliminated from the playoffs and had another first-round exit. Barkley then lost twice to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the semifinals. “Chuck” didn’t even make the playoffs before he was traded to the Phoenix Suns in 1992.
Jeff Ruland never played for the Philadelphia 76ers as he retired for four straight seasons due to injuries before making a return in 1991. Moses Malone, on the other hand, made two All-Star teams after the trade. “Mo” averaged 20.3 points and 11.5 rebounds in that stretch.
Roy Hinson was serviceable but never became the multiple All-Star that Brad Daugherty was. Daughtery, meanwhile, became a franchise cornerstone for the Cleveland Cavaliers along with Mark Price. The No.1 pick in the 1986 Draft was an All-Star for five seasons.
Here’s Charles Barkley on his last few years in Philly without a dependable supporting cast:
“They were beating the hell out of me in my last two, three seasons in Philly. And I finally had had enough and says, ‘Yo man, I’m not the damn problem here. You guys are killing me. I’m in the top five 5 for MVP every year. I know I’m a hell of a player.’ I’m playing with guys who can’t play dead.”
Charles Barkley might not have won it with Malone and Daugherty in the lineup, but the 76ers certainly didn’t have a chance without them.
With a better supporting cast in Phoenix, he promptly took them to the 1993 NBA Finals where he was again denied by Michael Jordan.