Charles Barkley tells wild story of his 1991 arrest: 'I started taking off all of my clothes'

Sporting News

Back in December 1991, Charles Barkley, then a star forward for the 76ers, went out with Bucks players Frank Brickowski and Larry Krystkowiak after a Saturday game in Milwaukee. What happened that evening nearly changed the trajectory of Barkley's career.

During an appearance on "The Lowe Post" podcast with ESPN's Zach Lowe, Barkley revisited that snowy night and explained what led to him being arrested and charged with battery and disorderly conduct. Barkley told Lowe he had left a bar at closing time and was planning to head over to Brickowski's house for a drink. Brickowski told Barkley to ride back with his wife because she had parked a good distance from the bar, and that's when it all went sideways.

"All of a sudden I could hear running," Barkley said. "Then it started getting closer to me, and I could hear them saying, 'F— Charles Barkley, F— Charles Barkley.' So I said, 'Hey, girl, we need to speed this up.' I could hear people running toward me, but it was really cold. I didn't want to stop and turn around. We start walking faster. She had to park a long way away, not a lot of parking there. We get about two blocks away, and these three guys are up on me. I'm like, 'Yo, man. What's y'all problem?' They're like, 'We don't f—ing like you. We don't like you, and we're gonna kick your ass.' I said, 'Why y'all gonna kick my ass? I don't even know you dudes.' They're like, 'No, we don't like you.'

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"And old girl is screaming, and I'm screaming, 'Hey, shut up. I'm trying to think over here.' They were three big weightlifters, and they were right in my grill. Two at my back, one's right in my grill. I said, 'Yo, man, I don't want no trouble.' The dude says, 'I'm gonna kick your ass.' So I'm starting to think, 'OK, what are you gonna do? Because right now you're probably gonna get your ass kicked.'"

MORE: Barkley calls out Michael Jordan for "selective prosecution" with teammates

Barkley didn't have much time to formulate a plan, so he went with the first thing that came to mind: "Make them think you're crazy."

"So I started taking off all of my clothes. I take off my jacket, had a big coat on. I take off my shirt. I take off my shoes and socks," Barkley said. "I think it was right around the time we were doing 'Karate Kid,' so I was like, wax on, wax off. I'm doing this, and all of a sudden, these two dudes back up. But this one dude is still in my grill. I'm thinking, 'Oh, it's working on two of them, but it's not working on another one.' Then I said I might as well make my move, so I hit this one dude as hard as I can hit a dude.

"He's down, and he's like, 'You f—ing hit me!' And I said, 'You damn right, and there's plenty more where that came from.' It would have been an interesting proposition, me trying to fight these three big guys if they all got on me at the same time. But when I hit old boy, he went down, and that was it."

According to the Associated Press' reporting at the time, Barkley broke the nose of the 25-year-old man, who was treated and released at a Milwaukee hospital. Rather than driving to Brickowski's house, Barkley returned to his hotel room, where he was arrested shortly before 7 a.m., per the AP.

In June 1992, Barkley was acquitted on both charges, then traded from the 76ers to the Suns only hours later. Aside from the obvious legal consequences, if Barkley had not been acquitted, the Suns' front office may have decided it was too risky to acquire him.

Barkley enjoyed four All-Star seasons in Phoenix before finishing his career in Houston.

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