4. Charles Barkley, 1993 Western Conference Finals Game 7
Charles Barkley has become a national treasure in his post-NBA career as an analyst on TNT’s Inside the NBA. From his distinctive voice to his mispronunciations and strong opinions, Barkley is must-see television. What many young fans watching him today may not realize is just how dominant a player he was in his prime. As a seven-time All-Star and All-NBA selection at the time, Barkley had already experienced great individual success.
The 1992-93 season brought the team success that previously eluded him. He got the chance to trade blows with the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals. But, it almost didn’t happen. The Phoenix Suns battled the Seattle Supersonics in the Western Conference finals. With the series tied 2-2, Barkley delivered a record-setting performance in Game 5. He posted a triple-double with 43 points, 15 boards, and 10 assists in the Suns’ win. The 43-point triple-double set a playoff record that stood until last week. With the Suns facing elimination four days later in Game 7, Barkley would not be denied.
He dominated the matchup with Sonics’ All-Star forward Shawn Kemp. Barkley pressured Sonics’ defense and converted 19 of his 22 free throw attempts. There was no answer for Barkley who scored 44 points and cleaned the glass for 24 rebounds. The Suns won the game by 13 points to advance to the NBA Finals. Charles Barkley produced two of the greatest individual playoff exhibits in history within the same week. He cemented his legacy in 1993, which is the same year his infamous “I am not a role model” ad was released.