MINNEAPOLIS – There is a statue of Charles Barkley outside of Auburn Arena.
Every day, Auburn basketball players walk by that statue when they enter the arena to lift weights, practice and play games.
But the presence of the Auburn legend is not limited to a statue. The NBA Hall of Fame is around the basketball team as much as possible. He attends several games every season, and since then. Bruce Pearl He became a coach there in 2014, he has been more active with the team.
Now, with a national championship in sight in the first appearance of the Final Four in Auburn's history, Barkley is imparting wisdom to the players he calls "his children."
"I've had an incredible life as a basketball player," Barkley told the Tigers in an undated video posted here by CBS Sports in Minneapolis. "My number retired in Auburn, my number retired in Philadelphia, my number retired with the Phoenix Suns, but you know, I never won a championship, I never won a championship, I have to live with that forever. opportunity to do that, and it's very difficult to win a championship, it's difficult, but you did the hard part in getting here.
"My coach is here, Sonny (Smith), he's like a father to me. We did not reach the Final Four, never reached the Final Four. This is the coach's first trip to the Final Four. He has been training forever. "
Sonny Smith was Auburn's coach for 11 years, coming to the NCAA Tournament in five consecutive seasons and at the same time taking him to his first Elite Eight in 1986. Barkley played in Auburn from 1981 to 1984 before beginning his tremendous career in the NBA that includes gold medals in the Olympic Games and multiple appearances in the playoffs.
But Barkley never won a title in Auburn or in the NBA.
"You do not know how difficult it is to get here," he said. "You have done all the hard work, but the only thing I want to tell you, man, take this opportunity, you do not have to do anything different, you all played very well to get here, but do not take this for granted."
No. 5 seed Auburn (30-9) knocked off the three most successful programs in college basketball history in a sequence to advance to the Final Four: Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky. The Tigers play No. 1 Virginia (33-3) at 5:09 p.m. CT in CBS.
Barkley is part of the team of badysts of Turner and CBS transmissions during the NCAA Tournament and will be on stage here in Minneapolis during the game.
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"My number retired in Auburn, my number retired in Philadelphia, my number retired with the Phoenix Suns, but I never won a championship, I have to live with that forever, you have the opportunity to do that."
– CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) April 6, 2019