Barkley calls it quits, again

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The Independent Online

This time he means it. No joke.

This time he means it. No joke.

The Basketball star Charles Barkley even had a halftime ceremony before the hometown fans during Sunday night's Houston Rockets-Detroit Pistons exhibition game to prove it.

This season, his 16th in the NBA, will be his last.

Barkley, who has teased fans a number of times in recent years with the threat of leaving the sport, formally announced his pending retirement in the Birmingham Civic Center, just a half-hour drive from his hometown of Leeds.

He announced he would give $1m each to alma maters, Leeds High School and Auburn University and to a program for inner-city Birmingham youth called Cornerstone Schools.

"I made up my mind that I was going to retire last season," Barkley, 36, told the crowd. "A reporter asked me, 'You have athletes making absurd amounts of money but why aren't they doing great things with it?' It really annoyed me, because it was true."

He was joined at centre court by his mother, Charcey Glenn, and grandmother, Johnnie Mae Mickens, who raised him together.

"It's time for me to do something else," he said. "It's time for me to have some fun now. I don't think my life could get any better. But it's time to do something else."

The 11-time All-Star has gained fame for his game - he was named one of the NBA's 50 best players in 1997 - and infamy for his mouth. Barkley has been one of the league's most colorful players - on and off the court, known for everything from denouncing athletes as role models to once throwing a man through a bar room window.

Barkley, who signed a one-year contract estimated at $9m on 4 October, is one of only three players in NBA history with more than 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists. The others are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain.

He ranks 13th in career scoring (23,468) and is fourth among active players.

Barkley led the Olympic Dream Team in scoring in 1992 and 1996.

He hasn't lost his skills either, averaging 16.7 points and 12.4 rebounds last season. Only Sacramento's Chris Webber averaged more rebounds.

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