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Charles Barkley calls Kevin McHale the toughest player he had to guard

Celtics, Charles Barkley, Kevin McHale

Former MVP and current NBA on TNT commentator Charles Barkley called fellow Hall of Fame power forward and Boston Celtics legend Kevin McHale the “best” player he had to play against.

Via Marilyn Payne in USA Today Sports’ For The Win:

Charles Barkley believes that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time, even if he jokes that MJ is overrated.

But in Tennessee at an event benefitting the Boys and Girls Club Tuesday, the Hall of Famer listed another great as the guy who was toughest for Barkley to take on personally. “He’s the best player I ever played against and had to guard,” Barkley said of former Boston Celtics power forward Kevin McHale.

McHale and Barkley frequently clashed as the former on the Celtics for 13 years brought a rude awakening to the latter’s NBA career when the 6-foot-6 Barkley entered the league with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics and Sixers’ frequent playoff meetings, especially in the 1980s, saw Barkley take on the reins as leader of a team past the Moses Malone and Julius Erving era and into the declining years of Larry Bird, Robert Parish, and McHale. Barkley and Sixers lost to Boston in the 1985 Eastern Conference Finals—the Round Mound of Rebound’s rookie season.

Barkley would play out his final eight seasons in the league in the west with the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets. McHale retired after the 1992-93 seasons after playing his entire career with the Celtics.

McHale would later coach the Rockets in his post-playing days and now is an analyst on TNT with Barkley.