cover image Barkley: A Biography

Barkley: A Biography

Timothy Bella. Hanover Square, $29.99 (512p) ISBN 978-1-335-48497-0

Bella, a Washington Post staff writer and editor, debuts with an brawny look at basketball star Charles Barkley, who “helped change not just how fans watched the game but also how they talked about it.” Barkley was raised by his mother and grandmother in 1960s Leeds, Ala., and as a student athlete at Auburn University, he elevated the basketball team to national prominence. In 1984, he was drafted by the Sixers and earned the moniker “Sir Charles,” upstaging veteran teammates like Julius “Dr. J” Erving. In 1992, he was traded to the Suns and in his first season there, led the team to the 1993 NBA Finals. Though the Suns lost to the Chicago Bulls in an explosive six-game series, Barkley met his match in Michael Jordan, who became a rival and friend. In 1996, the Suns traded Barkley to the Rockets, where the All-Star forward’s dreams of winning an NBA championship were dashed. Barkley’s flamboyant personality attracted fans, but at the same time, his anger issues sometimes led to altercations with opponents and spectators. Though Bella didn’t interview Barkley, he judiciously assembles a wealth of material, including 372 interviews with Barkley’s childhood friends, coaches, teammates, and even cops who’ve arrested him. This is a must-read for basketball devotees, but even casual sports fans will be fascinated. Agent: William Callahan, InkWell Management. (Nov.)