Charles Barkley Says He Once Played NBA Game Drunk After 1992 Trade to Lakers Fell Through

Robert Marvi
3 Min Read

In the 1991-92 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers were struggling to tread water, as Magic Johnson had just retired after finding out he was HIV-positive.

At the same time, superstar Charles Barkley wanted out of the Philadelphia 76ers after enduring several mediocre seasons.

For a minute, it looked like Barkley would be traded to the Lakers, and he decided to celebrate. Barkley told the whole story to Zach Lowe on “The Lowe Post” podcast.

“My agent calls me one morning and he says ‘hey, you’re going to get traded to the Lakers today.’” said Barkley. “And me and my friends, we go out and celebrate and get drunk around noon. … He calls me later and says, ‘Hey you’ve been traded to the Lakers, they’re going to finalize the deal and I’ll get back to you.’

“I’m on cloud nine, he calls me back three hours later, it’s like 3:30 now, he says, ‘The Sixers backed out of the deal.’ And I’m drunk as [bleeped expletive] and we got a game that night, and I’m like, ‘What? What are you talking about?’ And he’s like, ‘The Sixers were scared to pull the trigger.’ So I’m like, ‘You’re kidding me, dude we got a game tonight and I’ve been drinking since noon.’ The one thing that’s funny, I don’t even know how I played that night. I think I might have played so bad because I was so angry the Sixers didn’t pull the trigger, and then it’s just suffering the next two or three years.”

As it turned out, Barkley would get his wish, albeit in a different way. Once the season concluded, he was dealt to the Phoenix Suns for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry.

The Suns reached the NBA Finals that first season with Sir Charles, only to lose to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.

It seems unlikely that he would’ve had more success with the Lakers, as they were a much older team than Phoenix at the time. But with general manager Jerry West at the helm, perhaps they would’ve made an additional move to prime the squad for true title contention.

On the other hand, maybe the Lakers wouldn’t have been in position later on to sign Shaquille O’Neal and trade for Kobe Bryant, so maybe it was a good thing for L.A. the Barkley trade fell through.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif., and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s and fell in love with the Nick Van Exel-led Lakers teams. He truly cherishes the Kobe Bryant-era of Lakers basketball and the five world championships that came with it, and is looking forward to the team's next NBA title.