Chuck. Sir Charles. The Round Mound of Rebound. Charles Barkley is a well-known name in basketball and collecting. The man of many nicknames carries a loud persona, both on and off the court. Even with a listed height of 6'6", and many believe it is closer to 6'4", the undersized Barkley is widely considered one of the best power forwards in NBA history. He also is regularly mentioned among the best players to never win an NBA championship. Despite his lack of championships, Charles Barkley cards and memorabilia maintain strong values.
Charles Wade Barkley grew up in Leeds, Alabama and attended the University of Auburn. In 1984, after Barkley was named the SEC Player of the Year, he decided to forgo his Senior season and enter the NBA Draft. The historic 1984 NBA Draft saw Charles Barkley taken 5th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers. Barkley joined future Hall of Fame players Hakeem Olajuwon (1st overall pick), Michael Jordan (3rd overall), and John Stockton (16th overall), to form one of the greatest draft classes of all-time.
Although known primarily as a rebounder, Charles Barkley's game was incredibly well-rounded. In his prime, Barkley posted averages of 25 points and 12 rebounds, to go along with four assists, one block and nearly two steals per game. During his 16-year career, Charles Barkley played for the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets. He retired following the 1999-2000 season. The 11-time All-Star was named NBA MVP in 1993 and was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2006. Barkley was also a prominent member of the 1992 Olympic Team, known to most as "The Dream Team."
Charles Barkley has continued his time in spotlight through his role in Space Jam, various advertisement and endorsement deals, and currently as a blunt and goofy analyst for the NBA on TNT. He also has made news for his awkward and ineffective golf swing.
Contradicting his popularity, the Charles Barkley card market lacks the normal options found among most of the elite retired players, especially from the modern basketball era. Simply put, there are very few Charles Barkley certified autograph cards or jersey cards available. Because of this, demand and values remain very high. Even authenticated in-person autographed cards for Barkley carry strong values. The majority of his certified autograph cards are found in products from the late-90's and counterfeits have become a problem.
The list below includes the top Charles Barkley cards for collectors to pursue. While value, relevance and popularity all played a role in the composition, this list is by no means definitive. However, any of these cards would make a great addition to any collection.
Top 10 Charles Barkley Cards
The cards are in chronological order.
Charles Barkley's first Star card might not be considered a true rookie, but collectors have still taken notice of this valuable card. Technically an XRC, the card features a simple design, with a heavy red border.
As the only true Charles Barkley rookie, his 1986-87 Fleer card would be on this list no matter what. Once you account for the great design and the historical significance of the set, it is easily among the top Charles Barkley card options.
Not nearly as popular or valuable as his XRC or RC, 1987-88 Fleer is still a strong option. The design does feel outdated but the large image is a good reminder of how Charles Barkley was not always such a round mound. Adding to the appeal, boxes of 1987-88 Fleer are not the easiest to track down because of a limited print run and they command a premium price.
While some may look down on 1993-94 Finest Basketball, this marked the beginning of a new era of cards. Lower values make these Charles Barkley cards very affordable, and although they scream early-90s, the Finest technology and bright colors make for a distinct and popular design. Refractor parallels apply an added chase factor.
Another appealing budget option, Flair Showcase actually has three levels of base cards, that come in the form of Rows. Featuring another distinct design, this elegant Charles Barkley card showcases a profile shot in the background with an action shot in the foreground. High values come into play with the Legacy parallels, which are numbered to 150.
As the name indicates, 1997-98 Metal Universe brought the foil and it brought a lot. The card features an intense Charles Barkley, driving to the hoop, while the background has been transformed into a bizarro metal basketball universe. However, this is not simply a flashy card. Metal Universe also gave birth to the popular low-numbered parallel phenomenon, with Precious Metal Gems. These parallels are numbered to 100, total. The first 10 are green and the remaining 90 are red. Both are in high demand.
When Autographics arrived in 1996-97 basketball products, it was definitely a game-changer. Just like the inaugural year, these autographed cards were randomly inserted across all Fleer and Skybox products during 1997-98. The Charles Barkley cards are of particular importance because of the general lack of certified cards available for the former great. A nice design and on-card autograph adds to the appeal. These are tough cards to track down. For collectors not satisfied with just the base version, a Century parallel exists that is hand numbered to 100.
Another big set from 1997-98, Upper Deck Game Jerseys helped start the jersey card revolution. These rare cards were found 1:2,500 packs, on average, and the Barkley card does not surface often.
Fleer Focus is a largely unimpressive product, but the thrill of Fresh Ink autographs has kept collectors interested. The close-up and generic image of Barkley gives the appearance of an unlicensed card. Also, even though it is an on-card autograph, the design for the signing area looks like a foil sticker. Despite not having a great design, Fresh Ink autographs remain quite popular and are not easy to find.
The second Autographics card for Charles Barkley came in 1990-00. Featuring an updated design and horizontal on-card signature, this is another valuable Charles Barkley card, that is hard to locate. A limited blue ink parallel, hand numbered to #/50, adds to the chase.