At the end of March 1997, Charles Barkley was playing against John Stockton when he intentionally tried to trip Stockton. The move caused a major rift in their friendship and an ongoing feud that has since been resolved through their mutual respect for each other.
Charles Barkley had plenty of nastiness even towards the twilight of his career. That was something John Stockton had intimate experience with.
Barkley and Stockton, two-time Olympic teammates, were Western Conference opponents for the most of the 1990s. Chuck’s Houston Rockets faced Stockton’s Utah Jazz in the 1997 Western Conference Finals, and it all came to a head.
Sir Charles had little patience for what he considered to be unethical behavior. Because of the former “Bad Boy’s” physical manner, he developed a strong feud with Bill Laimbeer. Barkley, who is known for speaking his opinion, admits to having similar deliberate motivations during an in-game confrontation with Stockton in the 1997 playoffs.
As opponents and colleagues, Charles Barkley and John Stockton had plenty of experience.
Team USA’s Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley, and Magic Johnson celebrate winning the men’s basketball gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain | Icon Sportswire
Charles Barkley and John Stockton seemed to have forged a long connection in the early 1990s.
At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Chuck and Stockton were members of the Dream Team. Barkley became a true sensation because to his larger-than-life demeanor and entertaining portrayals of time spent drinking beer with colleagues like Larry Bird. Stockton seemed to fit seamlessly with the throng. Regardless, both contributed to Team USA’s gold medal victory. It wouldn’t be the first or last time.
In 1996, the two NBA Hall of Famers were called again, this time to Atlanta for Dream Team II. As Team USA repeated as Olympic champions, Barkley anchored the team once again, but Stockton provided a strong on-ball defensive presence.
Sir Charles and Stock, on the other hand, demonstrated their ability to play well together. They competed as rivals as well.
As a member of the Phoenix Suns, Barkley regularly faced Stockton’s Jazz teams. The two did not meet in the playoffs until Chuck was dealt to Houston by the Suns soon after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Though former buddies rapidly became adversaries in more than just the metaphorical sense, the first playoff matchup was surely noteworthy.
In Game 2, Barkley floored Stockton and acknowledged to attempting to harm the Jazz guard.
The civil war that would have erupted on here in 1996 if word had gotten out that the Rockets were contemplating selling Sam Cassell and Robert Horry for a 34-year-old Charles Barkley.
— RedNinetyFour (@RedNinetyFour) December 30, 2021
The late-1990s Houston Rockets are more known for the failed “Big 3” experiment of Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, and Hakeem Olajuwon, particularly the shaky relationship between Chuck and Pip. Sir Charles’ first season in H-Town, on the other hand, was a huge success.
During the 1996-97 season, when Clyde Drexler took up Pippen’s position as a member of Houston’s “Big 3,” the Rockets won 57 games. Despite only appearing in 53 games, Barkley proved he could still play dominating basketball, averaging 19.2 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 4.7 assists.
Houston showed tenacity in the playoffs, upsetting the defending Western Conference champion Seattle SuperSonics in seven games to go to the Conference Finals against Stockton and the Jazz. Early on, things did not go as planned.
The first two games were won by Utah by a total score of 27 points. Stockton and the Jazz, according to Barkley, were able to get away with a variety of unlawful and shady practices. As a result, when Stockton walked over to lay a screen in Game 2, he drilled him. Barkley acknowledged (h/t YouTube) his intention to maim Stockton during his postgame interview.
“Clearly, the officials aren’t going to perform their job. They’ll allow [the Jazz] to place movable selections on the field. So I was aiming to break a rib or split [Stockton’s] shoulder.”
Charles Barkley is a basketball player who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers (1997)
The journalists in the room burst out laughing. For a single second, Barkley did not grin. He went on to claim that he was dead serious about his ill purpose career.
Initially, Chuck’s antics looked to have energised the Rockets. Stockton, on the other hand, had the final laugh, and he did it in spectacular manner.
Stockton nailed a game-winning shot over Barkley.
Barkley’s bravado served as a rallying cry for the Rockets. However, they were unable to complete the transaction.
Houston evened the series by winning the following two games at home. Barkley was a force on the boards, and Eddie Johnson’s game-winning shot in Game 4 gave the Rockets a boost heading back to Utah.
The Jazz, on the other hand, refused to give up. Utah prevailed in a tense Game 5 in Salt Lake City. Stockton had one of his best performances back in Clutch City.
With 22 seconds left, the NBA’s all-time assist leader made a game-tying shot. The Jazz took a timeout after a Drexler miss. Utah sprung Stockton for a clear look on the subsequent inbounds play. He took one dribble and sank a 3-pointer that sailed right over Barkley and into the net.
Stockton ended with 25 points and 13 assists in the game. More significantly, he’d finally delivered the Jazz to the Finals after years of agony for himself and Karl Malone.
That series, by the way, represented Barkley’s last big opportunity to win an NBA title. In Game 2, he could have struck Stockton even harder.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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