‘Loses Sight of the Ball’: How 1984 Olympics Coach Assessed Charles Barkley

Published 01/17/2021, 12:00 PM EST
NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 26: Charles Barkley attends the 2017 NBA Awards at Basketball City – Pier 36 – South Street on June 26, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)


Back in 1983, the Indiana gym, in which the U.S. Olympic basketball trials took place, saw a plethora of talent with Bobby Knight as the coach. Knight is the man behind the success this team achieved and clinched the gold medal. However, picking the perfect team for national basketball was nothing less than a hassle, and Charles Barkley got caught in the middle of it all.

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The 1984 Olympic trials

The 12 man army was sorted and picked from the best collection of raw talent ever seen. Out of the 72 prospects, 37 were future first-round picks for the NBA, 12 potential All-stars with future Hall of Famers as well.

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However, the controversy that caught everyone’s attention was Charles Barkley being cut from the team. Eventually, the chatter got worse when John Stockton and Karl Malone were also let go. While some thought that Knight could have formed two teams equally talented and capable of bringing the gold home, some thought the selection was perfect as it is.

A team of shooters, defenders, screeners had additional superstars like Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Wayman Tisdale, Chris Mullin, and Sam Perkins. It takes a legendary coach to build a team of legends. However, it seemed like Barkley and Knight just couldn’t see eye to eye.

CHICAGO – JUNE 18: Charles Barkley #34 of the Phoenix Suns chats with Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Five of the 1993 NBA Finals on June 18, 1993 at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois. The Suns won 108-98. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1993 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Points of criticism for Charles Barkley

Rumor has it that Knight and Barkley were constantly at each other’s throats during the trials. Bobby had an authoritarian person, so he expected players to meet certain demands, but Charles failed in doing so. Even though Barkley was one of the best prospects, he just didn’t fit into the coach’s vision.

Being late for practices and a lethargic attitude towards the game just rubbed Knight in the wrong way. When cutting Chuck off from the roster, Knick had expressed that it was because of his poor defense. In fact, he had shrewd observations about the star that read:

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Loses sight of the ball and man.

Bad judgment, dribbling into three defenders.

Does not move his feet to help the driver.

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Whether this chucking out was personal or purely professional for the benefit of the team, can never be known. From time to time, even Chuck has shown his anger towards Bobby. This just seems like a war that will never end. But can you really blame Charles? He was deprived of the opportunity of being a part of the dream team that won the gold medal.

10 April 2019, US, Dallas: Basketball: NBA; Main Round; 81st Matchday; Dallas Mavericks – Phoenix Suns at Amercian Airlines Center. Legendary meeting on the occasion of Dirk Nowitzkis last home game of his career. This is Charles Barkley speaking to Dirk Nowitzki. Photo: Philipp Hülsmann/dpa (Photo by Philipp Hülsmann/picture alliance via Getty Images)

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Yashima Bhatia

1473 articles

Yashima Bhatia is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports who specialises in providing nuanced predictions and updates for matches. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Yashima's love for playing the game came up at a young age, when the excitement of the games coupled with the intensity of the Playoffs had her hooked.

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