OPELIKA, Ala. — Charles Barkley has always had a creative imagination.
Barkley’s latest idea: The statue of him to be built outside Auburn Arena, the one Auburn legend Bo Jackson announced to a silenced Jordan-Hare Stadium (and Barkley) on Saturday, should be a skinny one.
“Don’t make it life-size,” Barkley said Monday. “I hope they use a skinny picture, because there’s a bunch of fat pictures in my life.”
Charles Barkley only has one preference for his Auburn basketball statue. pic.twitter.com/hjcfq29DVv
— Benjamin Wolk (@benjaminwolk) October 24, 2016
As Bruce Pearl later joked, that wouldn’t do The Round Mound of Rebound nickname justice.
Pearl and Barkley are two free-speaking, truth-telling basketball men. They share that vibrant persona — and a love for Auburn athletics. That’s why Barkley returned for Pearl’s annual golf outing, which is the only basketball-specific fundraiser every year, to help build on Pearl’s momentum on the hardwood.
But it’s also why Pearl continued his marketing mastery with the Auburn basketball program by requesting that university administration approve a piece of basketball history to go along with the football statues of Jackson, Cam Newton and Pat Sullivan
Barkley was the obvious choice.
“To go through this process with the Board of Trustees and have them see the vision and look at it as a big deal. They have some process they have to go through, and it was smooth as it could be,” Pearl said. “They recognize Charles’ greatness as a humanitarian and his life’s work and accomplishments, his career in television and the impact he has on our country in so many ways.”
It’s not easy to get a statue, nor should it be. Pearl said as much Monday before teeing off at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National. But a Barkley statue needed to be there, without question.
On Monday, Pearl gave about as great of an Auburn athletics pitch as there is, citing the personal message from Jackson to Barkley played on the Jumbotron at Jordan-Hare on Saturday — the quietest the stadium was all night. Pearl makes a great point: Where else will you find a basketball legend, a football/baseball legend and a top-25 matchup all in one place?
It’s yet another reason Barkley, an Alabama native, feels blessed to represent Auburn for life.
“Being a kid from Alabama who goes to Auburn and has had an amazing life, I don’t think there’s pretty much anything that can beat that,” Barkley said. “I mean, obviously when you’re in Alabama it’s Alabama or Auburn and to have success in life and be honored by Auburn is just cool.”