When a player goes on an incredible run, they become unstoppable. Their momentum can be impossible to halt and their play seems effortless. They are able to do things with the ball that other players cannot even think of doing. These moments are what sports fans live for and often speak years later about in awe of how it felt when they witnessed something special happen in front of them..
The “because i could not stop for death analysis” is a short story written by Ernest Hemingway. It was published in the September 1927 issue of The Sun Magazine. It tells the story of a man who can’t stop running and eventually dies while trying to escape from an oncoming train.
Charles Barkley’s outspokenness sparked a number of rivalries among his contemporaries. He also played during the same period as a number of NBA Hall of Famers, which resulted in some tense on-court rivalries.
Bill Laimbeer, a former Detroit Pistons center, battled Barkley. He was up against Michael Jordan, whom he has referred to as the GOAT on several occasions. Chuck had his problems with Larry Bird as well, albeit the Round Mound of Rebound chose a Boston Celtics legend as his greatest thorn in the side.
At the latter end of the Boston Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers rivalry, Charles Barkley entered the NBA.
The rivalry between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers is one of the most storied in NBA history, dating back to Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. At the conclusion of the rivalry, Charles Barkley entered the NBA.
Between 1980 and 1982, Philadelphia faced Boston three times in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Sixers defeated the Celtics in the Finals in 1980 and 1982, but both times they were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1981, the Celtics won the Larry O’Brien Trophy after defeating the 76ers.
The two teams wouldn’t meet in the playoffs again until Barkley’s first season in 1985. Boston easily beat Philadelphia in five games to return to the Finals for the second consecutive season. Though the early confrontations between the two clubs inspired Larry Bird to name the Sixers his biggest adversary, it was the last playoff matchup between the Celtics and the Sixers in the 1980s.
Barkley probably hasn’t played much playoff basketball against the Celtics. However, his 76ers were still in the same division as the Celtics, which meant he saw a lot of Hall of Fame power player Kevin McHale. Chuck despised everything about it.
Kevin McHale has been dubbed “Charles Barkley’s adversary” by Charles Barkley.
During an NBA game in 1991, Charles Barkley chats with Kevin McHale | Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images
Chuck despised every game against the Boston Celtics because he knew he’d be up against Kevin McHale. The Celtics icon, according to Barkley, is the finest player he’s ever faced.
Barkley explained why McHale was his “nemesis” on the “My Generation” episode of NBA TV’s Open Court series (h/t YouTube).
“It was impossible to stop [McHale].” I’ve always maintained that you couldn’t stop him. On the other hand, I had to use every ounce of energy I had in order to score against him. Kevin McHale was the finest player I ever faced because he was unstoppable on offense and a nightmare to defend.”
–Charles Barkley, “My Generation,” Open Court
McHale’s post footwork was among the finest of any power player in NBA history. On the block, he dominated as a player who could flip over either shoulder and knock down jumpers while also deceiving opponents with deceptive fakes and up-and-under maneuvers.
In addition, the two-time Sixth Man of the Year was named to six All-Defensive teams, including three First Team All-Defensive choices. In 13 seasons, he averaged 1.7 blocks per game and was a master at contesting shots at the rim while not being afraid to be tough.
McHale did really cause Barkley a lot of difficulties, particularly early in his career.
Against Barkley, McHale put up huge numbers.
Simply based on head-to-head comparisons, Barkley looks to have done better versus McHale.
Chuck had a 54.9 percent shooting percentage and averaged 22.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.6 assists, while McHale had a 58.4 percent shooting percentage and averaged 20.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. That does not include the last few seasons of McHale’s career, which were cut short due to a foot ailment.
McHale’s domination over Chuck is amplified in Barkley’s first few seasons. In the 1985 Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics’ great averaged 21.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 3.6 blocks. Barkley, on the other hand, averaged 14.0 points and 11.2 rebounds while shooting 46.8%, which was an incredibly low percentage for him.
In his second season, Sir Charles established himself as an All-Star candidate, averaging 20.0 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 2.2 steals, and 1.6 blocks. Chuck, on the other hand, averaged 16.3 points on 36.7 percent shooting in six games versus the Celtics. McHale, on the other hand, averaged 23.6 points per game on over 55% shooting and slightly over two blocks per game.
What about in 1986-87, when Barkley was named to his first All-Star team? In six games versus the Celtics, he averaged 20.0 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 5.2 assists on 57.9% shooting. Aren’t they impressive figures? McHale, on the other hand, averaged 27.2 points on 62.1 percent shooting versus Philadelphia during that season.
In summary, McHale provided a yardstick and the most difficult test of Barkley’s career to a young Barkley.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
‘That Is Your Last Shot of the Season,’ Kevin McHale savagely taunted Isiah Thomas during the Celtics-Pistons rivalry.
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