Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley surprises Sixers, tells them to 'make the playoffs'

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Charles Barkley surprises Sixers, tells them to 'make the playoffs'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Charles Barkley has been vocal over the summer about his expectations for the Sixers to make the playoffs

This week, he let them know.

Head coach Brett Brown hosted the Sixers at his home for a team gathering on Monday. The team arranged for Barkley to arrive as a surprise guest for the players. 

Barkley delivered his message loud and clear.

“Pretty much, make the playoffs,” Richaun Holmes said on Tuesday at training camp.  

Barkley, a Hall of Fame inductee in 2006, spent eight seasons in Philadelphia. He saw his number retired in 2001. The Sixers watched highlights of his storied career during the night. 

“He had some really encouraging words for us and talked to us about what it means to play in Philly and his experience,” Kris Humphries said. “Above all, Chuck’s always entertaining, so [we] had some good laughs, too.”

The Sixers are on board with Barkley’s aspirations. This season they have the opportunity to make the jump among the top eight teams in the East. Between adding to their roster and opponents trading away key players, the conference is wide open for new faces in the postseason. 

“Our goal is to make the playoffs,” Brown said. “There are several other teams … that are in a room saying something similar. For me, let’s talk about what that really means and let’s very much zoom in on the things that will allow us to do that.” 

The Sixers will strive to play beyond April 11. The team knows the steps it has to take in order for Barkley to say, "I told you so." 

“I feel once everybody’s on the same page and doesn’t care about anything but winning … that’s when I think we’ll be a great team,” Amir Johnson said. 

The Charles Barkley-Ron Hextall bromance has reached the gift level

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Photos courtesy of Zack Hill

The Charles Barkley-Ron Hextall bromance has reached the gift level

Charles Barkley and Ron Hextall are two of the most beloved Philadelphia athletes of all time. They both happened to play during the same era of Philly sports, so it's no surprise they have a mutual respect for each other.

You may recall earlier this year when Chuck mentioned his Hextall fandom: "I started following hockey actually in Birmingham, Alabama," Barkley said. "They had a team called the Bulls back in the day. That was my first recollection of hockey. Then when I got to Philadelphia, my favorite hockey player of all time is Ron Hextall. I got to know him and Eric Lindros going to a bunch of Flyers games."

The former Flyers goalie-turned-GM was flattered initially.

"I laughed when I heard that," Hextall told reporters in June. "We had a bit of a relationship back in the day. He was at a lot of our games obviously. There's a mutual respect there. I certainly liked the way Charles played — a hard game, very emotional, gave it all he had out on the court."

"I'm honored to be talked about by Charles for sure."

Well, now the relationship has taken the next step to the gifting stage of the bromance.

Sir Charles was a guest on the Mike Missanelli Show on Tuesday and they had a personalized Hextall jersey all ready for him. Ron even wrote a nice little note to go along with his autograph.

(Pictures from Zack Hill, Philadelphia Flyers.)

Charles Barkley: 'The playoffs are a definite for the Sixers this year'

Charles Barkley: 'The playoffs are a definite for the Sixers this year'

Joel Embiid tweeted last month about playoff spots opening up in the Eastern Conference thanks to several star players moving out west (see story).

Embiid presumably meant that would allow the Sixers to snag one of the precious postseason slots. However, former Sixers great and Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley, left no doubt.

“The playoffs are a definite for the Sixers this year,” Barkley said Friday to CSN’s Danny Pommells from the American Century Championship in Lake Tahoe.

While other teams have been weakened by core players changing conferences, Barkley still believes the Sixers’ rise will have more to do with the squad coming into its own.

“If Embiid is healthy and (Ben) Simmons is healthy, I think they’re definitely gonna make the playoffs,” he said. “Obviously the injury thing has really hurt them the last couple years. But if those two guys are healthy, I think both of them are terrific players. Now you’ve got (Markelle) Fultz, you’ve got JJ (Redick). They’ve done some good things with the guys coming off the bench. (Dario) Saric was fantastic last year.

“If they don’t make the playoffs, I’d be totally shocked.”

A big key to the Sixers' reaching that level will be how Simmons and Fultz mesh together on the court. The last two No. 1 picks could make up the team’s starting backcourt in a non-traditional pairing.

“One or the other is probably going to have to defer a little bit because they both want the ball,” Barkley said of the Simmons-Fultz pairing. “They’re both dominant guys with the ball. I think coach (Brett) Brown is gonna have to really talk to them about that. That could be an interesting dynamic of their team because they’re both ball-dominant guys and they both will probably have to sacrifice a little bit in that area.”

No matter which of those players ultimately has to take a back seat on the floor, Barkley is confident the Sixers will figure things out and move up the NBA ranks.

“The Sixers, man, they’ve just got a really bright future,” he said.

For more from Barkley on the Sixers and LaVar Ball, watch the full video above.