Auburn basketball: Tigers announce Charles Barkley statue
AUBURN, Ala. — Move over Bo, Pat and Cam. Charles Barkley will soon join you with a statue on the Auburn University campus.
The school announced Saturday that it will erect a statue of Barkley outside of Auburn Arena to recognize his many accomplishments. He'll be the fourth former Auburn athlete to have a statue erected in his honor, joining former Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
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"It just means a great deal to me," Barkley said. "Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It's going to be pretty cool."
Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl said Barkley deserved the honor.
"It's more than about what Charles Barkley accomplished here at Auburn, which is certainly historic, but it has been about his life’s work and contribution," Pearl said. "We want to recognize one of the most respected, philanthropic NBA legends, Hall of Famer, for his lifetime achievements.
"Our Auburn Family is so blessed to have an Auburn man like Charles Barkley in the public eye representing us. A statue and a symbol like this serves to bring attention to that and will stand the test of time."
Jay Jacobs, Auburn's Director of Athletics, said in a statement that Barkley is "a legend on the court who became a cultural icon in America. His many contributions to Auburn, the NBA and society deserve to be honored and recognized. A statue outside the arena he never played in but in many ways helped build is a fitting tribute to the man whose likeness is already known all over the world. This permanent tribute is our way of showing Charles how much Auburn loves and appreciates him."
Chuck Person, Pearl's associate head coach who played with Barkley at Auburn, also praised his former teammate.
"It is a terrific honor and is well-deserved," Person said. "After Charles left Auburn, Auburn basketball was synonymous with winning. It was a great era when Charles was here, and he catapulted Auburn into the national spotlight.
"More than anything, Charles Barkley has become a global icon and this award honors the contributions he has given to Auburn both on and off the floor. Charles definitely belongs with the Auburn greats of Bo Jackson, Cam Newton and Pat Sullivan. What an honor, and Auburn couldn’t have done this for a better man, my friend, Charles Barkley."
Barkley played at Auburn from 1981-84 and won All-American honors on his way to becoming an Olympic gold medal winner and being named one of the NBA's 50 greatest players in the league's 50th anniversary season. A first-round draft pick by the Philadelphia 76ers, Barkley played in the NBA from 1984-2000.
Auburn retired his jersey in 2001.
Barkley, who is from Leeds, Ala., is one four NBA players who had 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. The others are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Karl Malone.