The Chuckster, Sir Charles, The Round Mound of Rebound, Bread Truck, Love Boat, Food World, The Crisco Kid, Wide Load from Leeds, Ton of Fun, the Goodtime Blimp…Charles Barkley had many nicknames throughout his amazing 15 year NBA career, and he deserved every one of them. Charles was one of the coolest and most disruptive players of his generation.
On average, Charles measured in at 6’6” and 252 lbs, which at first glance, almost doesn’t make sense. It almost looks as if whoever wrote down the stats mixed up a guard and a center and never bothered to check it. Barkley was built like a cannonball and played like one too. He was a mix of 80% brute force and 20% finesse.
Charles Barkley Shoes: A Full Timeline
Charles Barkley at Auburn
Charles played his college ball at Auburn, a college better-known for its football program. He quickly became one of the most popular players in the nation with his brutal, gravity-defying style of play. Charles was chubby at this point of his career but he was still able to gobble up rebounds at an incredible rate and physically dominate anyone on the court.
Converse All Star Pros
During his time at Auburn, Charles rocked Converse All Star Pros, which, honestly, makes his style of play all the more impressive. He averaged 14.1 points, 9.6 boards and 1.6 assists per game over three years and was named the SEC player of the year in 1984. At this point, he was ready to make the jump to the NBA.
Charles Barkley and the Sixers
Barkley was drafted with the 5th overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1984 NBA Draft, the same draft that brought Michael Jordan into the spotlight.
The Sixers were STACKED in 1984-85 and were considered to be one of the top teams in the NBA. Charles had to compete for a role on the team against the likes of Dr J, Moses Malone, and Bobby Jones. Famously, Charles showed up fat and out of shape and struggled to earn minutes early in the season. It was actually Moses Malone that took Charles under his wing and whipped him into shape. Charles would end up turning in an impressive 1985 season once he switched out his fat for some muscle.
Nike Air Force
He ended up averaging 14 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game with a block and a steal to go along with it. Sir Charles rocked several Nike Air Force models in both high-top and mid-cut versions. As we all know, they offer little in the form of cushion but do provide some of the best traction of all time.
Barkley played the season mainly in that year’s edition of the Nike Air Force. The Sixers reached the Eastern Conference semifinals, where they fell 4-3 to the Milwaukee Bucks. The team did not perform as hoped for, but fans were at least happy to have a new superstar to follow.
Barkleys third season would be his breakout season on an individual level, but it also marked the end of an era in Philadelphia. Moses Malone was traded to the Washington Bullets before the season began and it would be the last season that Julius Erving would play in the NBA. With their big man gone, and their perennial superstar diminished, Charles became the go-to guy.
Chuck bumped his numbers to 23 points a game, 4.9 assists, and a league-leading 14.6 rebounds a game. He would be named to that year’s All-Star Team, as well as the All-NBA Second Team, and finish 6th in the MVP voting.
Nike Air Force II
His weapon of choice that year was the Nike Air Force II which full length encapsulated Air and a couple other performance innovations. The Nike Air Force II became a very popular model around the league and in pop culture, even appearing in a bunch of movies and TV shows.
The Sixers made the playoffs, but they were booted in the first round by the Bucks. At the end of the season, with Dr J’s departure, Charles would take the helm of the team to begin a new era of Sixers basketball.
The Sixers roster looked and felt completely different going into the 87-88 season. Charles still had a solid core of veteran players that included Mo Cheeks and Andrew Toney, but there was a whole different vibe.
Chuck established himself as a superstar in the league. He averaged almost 30 a night with 12 boards to go with it, while shooting a league best 63% from two. He was named co-captain, an All-Star, selected for the All-NBA 1st team, and finished 4th in the MVP voting while racking up posters on a nightly basis.
Nike Air Alpha Force I
Sneaker-wise, it was clear that Chuck was all about Nike Air Force. This time, he went with the Nike Air Alpha Force I. The shoe featured a full-grain leather upper, a polyurethane outsole with an encapsulated air sole unit in the heel and a velcro strap on the forefoot for additional support. Stylistically, it would be a model that stuck with him. From here on out, Barkley gravitated to shoes with similar styling. He obviously fell in love with that forefoot strap.
The Alpha Force I was also one of the few, non-Jordan shoes that Michael Jordan ever wore in the NBA. He also famously wore the Air Way Up.
The Sixers were abysmal that year and didn’t even make the Playoffs. If the Chuckster was going to become a legit MVP contender, he would have to start winning some ball games.
Barkley toiled away on a Sixers team that wasn’t quite good enough to reach the NBA elite. The farthest they would reach was the Eastern Conference semifinals. Charles continued to put up ridiculous numbers, averaging over 20 points a game and 10 rebounds each season. He was an All Star every year, and named to the All-NBA first team 3 more times. But the love affair between Barkley and Sixers fans began to crumble.
Philly sports fans are a demanding bunch (to say the least), and every year they didn’t win a championship with Barkley at the helm, their frustration grew. Barkley’s frustration grew as well. Everything came to a head during an ugly incident in New Jersey. After being heckled by a fan in the front row, Charles spit at him. That would have been bad enough, but to make matters worse, he accidentally hit a little girl.
It was clear that Barkley was done with Philly and Philly was done with him.
Nike Alpha Force II, Nike Air Bound, Nike Air Ultra Force, and Nike Air Force 180
During that time, Chuck stuck with the Nike Air Force line. He would rock the Nike Alpha Force II, Nike Air Bound, the Nike Air Ultra Force, and the iconic Nike Air Force 180. We can see a clear tendency towards shoes with more cushion and a tougher build, which makes sense considering the beating he must have given his kicks.
The 1991-92 season would be Barkley’s last in Philly. He would be traded to the Phoenix Suns who were in the midst of putting together a championship-contending team. But before all that, it was time for another Olympic gold medal!
That summer he teamed up with Michael Jordan and every other Hall of Famer playing in the NBA for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Even though everyone remembers those games as MJ’s presentation on a global stage, it was actually Barkley who led the team in scoring. He averaged 18 points per game, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists and did so wearing a sleek pair of red, white, and blue Nike Air Force 180 PEs.
Nike Air Ballistic Force and Godzilla
In September of 1992, another bit of legendary Barkley sneaker history was made. The studio that created Star Wars, produced the iconic Barkley vs Godzilla commercial in which Chuck battled the giant lizard and dunked on him while rocking the Nike Air Ballistic Force. The commercial even had a commercial teasing the commercial!
The commercial spawned a bunch of spin-off apparel and media including a cool comic book. The comic book was released alongside the Nike Air Force Max CB and explained in greater detail how the Clash of Titans came to pass.
Barkley, the Suns, and his own Signature Line
Charles’ arrival in Phoenix did not go smoothly. This time, he hauled off and hit Cedric Ceballos on his first day of practice. It was his way of saying he meant business and that he was there to win. There are more elegant ways of making a point, but it was effective nonetheless.
The Suns were built to win a championship. They had Kevin Johnson at point, Tom Chambers, Dan Majerle, Cedric Ceballos, and Chuck at forward. They were a very dangerous and versatile team. They were great right from the get-go.
The Suns won 62 games and finished 1st in the NBA. Chuck had his best season in the NBA averaging 25.6 points per game, 12.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists with a block and a steal as well. He made the All-Star Team (obviously) and was named league MVP.
Nike Air Force Max
To cap it all off, Chuck got his first, what you might call, “signature shoe”. At the very least, it felt like his first signature shoe: the Nike Air Force Max. It didn’t have his logo on it. It wasn’t the CB1. But, this iconic shoe is synonymous with Barkley.
The shoe featured the forefoot velcro strap that Chuck gravitated to before, a visible Air Max unit in the heel, and a funky 90s style carved out traction pattern. They aren’t the best performance model, but they sure are pretty.
The one thing Charles didn’t achieve that year was probably the thing he wanted most. The Suns, in Barkley’s first season at the helm, made it all the way to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, Michael Jordan and the Bulls were waiting for them. The Suns put up a good fight, but they lost the series 4-2 and went home empty-handed. The Suns were not able to cap off a brilliant season much to the chagrin of the players and fans alike.
The following season, Barkley was brilliant on the court, averaging his usual 20+ points and 10+ rebounds. He was again chosen to the All-Star team and the All-NBA second team. He even led the NBA in triple-doubles. But the Suns weren’t able to recapture the same take-all rhythm of the previous year. They did OK, finishing 3rd in the West and winning 56 games. If they ever had a chance at winning the NBA title it would have been that year. MJ had just retired and the NBA was wide open. The Suns beat the young Golden State Warriors easily in the first round and would come face to face with the Houston Rockets in the 2nd round. The Rockets were a powerhouse, led by Clyde “the Glide” Drexler and that year’s MVP, Hakeem “the Dream” Olajuwon. The series would go the distance but ultimately the Rockets would advance and wind up winning the championship.
Air Force Max CB
One bright spot for Chuck that season was that he got his first official signature shoe: The Air Force Max CB. The Air Force Max CB was a super heavy shoe built like a tank. It featured a synthetic nubuck and leather upper with a mid-cut design, as well as an adjustable strap to secure the midfoot and 180-degree Max Air cushioning at the heel for impact protection. The shoes were cool as hell and had some absolutely classic commercials to go with them.
Is there anything more 90s?
The next season would bring more of the same for Barkley and the Suns. Great individual season, a disappointing Playoff loss in the second round, and the second and last chance at a Michael Jordan-less NBA Finals. But hey, we got another classic Charles Barkley shoe, the Nike Air Max 2 CB out of it. The shoe featured a giant 180 Air Max unit in the heel, the outsole was rugged and, like the previous models, well-suited for outdoor play. The upper was full-grain leather, they featured an interior bootie and a 2-in-1 speed lacing system that locks the fit in place. Every feature on the shoe seemed to be engineered to take an absolute thrashing. They were also accompanied by some amazing commercials and promotional materials.
The Chuckster would play two more seasons with the Suns with similar results: Chuck played well, the Suns underperformed, and we got a slew of new posters.
Nike Air CB 34
Charles would get two more signature shoes with the Suns: the Nike Air CB 34 and the Nike Air CB 34 II (confusing names, right?).
The Nike Air CB 34 was again super rugged and featured a 180 Air Max unit in the heel, as well as a forefoot strap. They were made to look like Godzilla’s feet with white arches along the outsole to simulate the beast’s claws. They also had one of the funkiest sole traction patterns ever, with the word “Sir” etched in graffiti letters on the left shoe, and “Charles” on the right.
Nike Air CB 34 II
The original Nike Air CB 34 II design was released in 1995. They featured a full-grain leather upper, lockdown elastic straps for the easy-pull lacing system, and the huge CB34 imprint on the side, tongue, and outsole of the shoe. They also came with a full-length Air Max unit, the first Barkley shoe to do so.
After four years with the Suns, Charles would be traded to Houston. At this point in his career, Charles had slowed down a bit and was chasing the one thing that had eluded him, a championship. He would join a stacked Houston roster that still featured Drexler and Olajuwon. But before the start of the season, Barkley would add another bit of hardware to his trophy case.
Charles joined the 1996 USA Basketball team in Atlanta. He again led the team in scoring and in rebounding averaging 12.4 ppg, 6.6 rbpg, and 2.4 assists. The US squad would ultimately take home the gold. Charles rocked his signature joints all throughout the competition but he was also spotted lacing up the Air More Uptempos in some practices.
Charles Barkley and the Houston Rockets
Barkley would get two more good seasons out of his weary legs and four in total. He was named to the All-Star team in 1997 when he was still able to rake in 19 points a game and almost 14 boards. But that would be his last All-Star appearance before he retired.
In the 1996-97 season the Rockets made the Western Conference Finals, but fell to the Jazz. Season five was Chuck’s last great chance to win a title. Sadly, he would retire as one of the NBA’s all time greats to never win an NBA title.
He got 3 more signature shoes during his time as a Rocket:
Nike Air CB4
The Nike Air CB4 was the most subdued of Barkley’s signature shoes. They featured a full-grain leather upper and asymmetrical lacing. The classic Barkley forefoot strap was eliminated and the new CB4 branding featured a Max Air Unit in the heel for impact protection.
Nike Air Super CB
The Nike Air Super CB released in 1997 and was one of the most underrated kicks in the Barkley line. They weren’t the most distinctive-looking Barkley shoe, but they featured an articulated leather and mesh upper, a Phylon midsole with a Max Air unit in the heel, and a forefoot Air-Sole unit as well as Dynamic-fit lacing.
Nike Air CB4 II
Nike and Chuck saved the best for last sneaker-wise with the Nike Air CB4 II. These bad boys were low cut and featured an upper that combined full-grain leather and nubuck, a low profile Phylon midsole with a three-fourths Max Air unit, as well as full-length herringbone traction. They were sleek and understated and perhaps the best performing Barkley sneaker on court. These seriously need to be brought back.
Chuck would use a bunch of other, non-signature, shoes towards the end of his time in Houston, including Air Jordan XIVs and the Nike Air Tuned Force.
During the 1999-2000 season, his last in the NBA, Charles suffered a severe knee injury that kept him on the bench most of the season. After months of rehabbing his knee, Chuck, in one last valiant effort, checked in to the last game of the regular season to try and offer fans one last shining Barkley moment. And that is just what he did. After a few possessions, Chuck finally got an offensive board, he put it back up and got an and 1.
Barkley Shoes Post Retirement
Charles got 2 more shoes after retiring. Similar to what happened with the Pippen line and the Pippen 6 and the Penny line with the Nike Air Penny 5, the Nike Air Penny 6, the Nike Air Zoom Rookie, the Lil Penny Signature line, the Nike Air Half Cent, and the Nike Lil Penny Posite, Nike decided to churn out a couple more Barkley models.
In Chuck’s case, they were two mash-up models: The Barkley Posite Max and the Chuck Posite.
Nike Barkley Posite Max
The Nike Barkley Posite Max was released in 2013 and blended traditional Barkley signature line design cues with some Foamposite features.
The shoe featured bits and pieces of every Barkley model including the “graffiti style” traction. Only this time, the shoes said “Not a Role Model” and used the classic 180 Air Max heel unit. They were meant as a lifestyle shoe but several NBA players were seen using them on the court, including Terrence Ross during that year’s dunk contest. They offered great traction and good cushion but they were super clunky. The shoe was released in a bunch of different colorways, but the cleanest had to be the USA Colorway.
Nike Chuck Posite
The Nike Chuck Posite came out the following year and did away with the Barkley design features. There were some nods here and there, but the shoe didn’t have much in common with Barkleys of the past. It again featured a Foamposite upper and Lunarlon but utilized a Zoom unit in the heel instead of the 180 Air Max unit. It also had an aggressive herringbone traction pattern that worked very well on court. On the other hand, the shoes were heavy and stiff, better suited for bigger players. On the court, Rudy Gay was seen wearing them during his time with the Kings.
Nowadays, Charles Barkley is more popular and widely know than ever before due to his seat on the Inside the NBA crew. But so far, Nike has decided not to release any new Barkley shoes. Do you think they a Barkley Inside the NBA model? Hit us up on socials if you vote yes.