Charles Barkley is just old enough to remember the great heavyweights–Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Norton, Holmes–of the last great boxing era. But actually he could be younger and still remember them, because they all fought too long. As Barkley tells Sports Illustrated: “Sports are like boxing, they’ll keep putting you out there even when you can’t fight anymore. They did that with the great heavyweights of our time. People are making money on you, they’ll keep throwing you out there.”
Barkley’s worried that’ll happen to Kobe Bryant, wants him to walk away as “one of the ten greatest players of all-time.” Kobe won’t accept that he’s older, according to Barkley. Kobe thinks he can outwork the clock. “You can’t outwork age,” he says. “I don’t want to see what happened to Steve Nash [happen to Kobe],” Barkley says. Nash, in Barkley’s opinion was a commodity like those great heavyweights. They kept rolling him out there until he wouldn’t roll anymore. He speaks as if Nash and Foreman had nothing to do with it–didn’t make a ton of cash getting rolled. But Barkley’s right about one thing for sure: the end is not always pretty, unless you’re Barry Sanders or Jim Brown.