Philadelphia 76ers: Zion Williamson lacks Charles Barkley’s charisma

(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) /

While Zion Williamson may share physical similarities with Philadelphia 76ers all-time great Charles Barkley, he lacks the Round Mound’s fiery ‘it’ factor.

No offense to Zion Williamson, but he’s no Charles Barkley.

Sure, he’s immensely talented, thoroughly electrifying, and the almost surefire first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, but comparing him to the Philadelphia 76ers all-timer does neither party justice.

And yet, it’s an easy comp to make.

ESPN‘s Stephen A. Smith has made it, The Ringer‘s Kevin O’Connor has made it, and even Jim Boeheim had something to say on the matter the after Syracuse defeated Duke 95-91 overtime victory.

“He’s like Charles Barkley was, except he shoots better… and he’s not as fat”. I swear you can’t make that sort of quote up ladies and gentlemen.

However, while Boeheim has forgotten more about basketball than I will ever know, his, and many others’ comp is a bit misguided.

You see, Barkley was infamous for being a 6-foot-6, 280-plus pound undersized power forward who could jump out of the gym, but it was his charisma that truly cemented his place in the City of Brotherly Love.

Barkley was a mean SOB, a player who reportedly gained upwards of 20 pounds over a weekend to avoid being drafted by the Sixers, and a who would eat McDonald’s on a training bike during practice.

In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Barkley even disclosed that he played a game drunk after an assumed trade to the Los Angeles Lakers fell through; an unintended consequence of partying earlier in the day.

And that, above all else, made Barkley a hero in our blue-collar town.

Even 30 years later, whenever the Prince of Pizza makes his way back to the city he once called home, he is honored as a great war hero. His appearance on NBCS Philadelphia are practically must watch, and his number 34 will forever hang in the annals of the Wells Fargo Center, alongside the likes of Dr. J, Moses Malone, and Allen Iverson.

I even named my dog after the Sixers great, mainly because he likes to bark, and is, well, a round mound.

For better (probably) or worse, Williamson doesn’t have that outspoken charm.

Sure, he’s a human highlight reel when it comes to breathtaking dunks, but Williamson is much more poised. He seems like a nice kid with a great head on his shoulders and a great support system, qualities almost tailor-made for modern-day NBA stardom, but to paraphrase the aforementioned Mr. A. Smith, ‘he just doesn’t have that dog in him’.

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Physically, the two share a lot of similarities, and in the modern-day NBA there’s no doubt that Williamson is a better fit on most rosters thanks to his shot, but until the young Dukie can strike fear in the hearts of opposing players in the same way that Sir Charles did back in his heyday, comparing the two forfeits a big part of what made Barkley one of the most compelling players in Philadelphia 76ers history, and among the most entertaining people in the world.