Credit: The Pat McAfee Show

We all know Charles Barkley loves to talk about his basketball playing days. Along the way, he’ll tell little interesting stories we may not have known about, such as his first encounter with Dirk Nowitzki.

Barkley encountered Nowitzki in Germany while he was with the “Dream Team” during the 1992 Olympics. Once he saw the former Dallas Mavericks star, he tried to bribe him into coming to play for his beloved Auburn Tigers.

Barkley told this story on the “The Pat McAfee Show.”

“I met Dirk Nowitzki and tried to pay him to come to Auburn,” Barkley said. “It was illegal, but I didn’t give a damn. Not gonna lie.”  We played an exhibition in Germany, and I’ve got Scottie Pippen, who is a great defender, I’ve got Horace Grant. A couple of other NBA players, and we played this German team,” Barkley said. “Dirk’s got like 35 at halftime. And at this time Scottie was considered a great defender. This dude finished with like 52 points.”

Then Barkley dropped this nugget.

“I said, ‘Yo man, who are you?’ He said, ‘My name is Dirk Nowitzki.’ I said, ‘Do you wanna go to Auburn? I’ll take care of that,’” Barkley recalled. “He says, ‘I gotta go in the Army.’ I said, ‘Dude, you’re 7 feet tall. You’re not going in the damn Army.’”

Barkley knew Nowitzki would be a star before he got to the NBA.

Could you imagine how dominant Nowitzki could have been in the SEC?  Had Nowitzki ended up as an Auburn Tiger, it could have changed the trajectory of that basketball program. Maybe Nowitzki could have gotten the Tigers to the Final Four before Bruce Pearl arrived and he may have even helped the Tigers win a national championship.

We will never know but you have to give Barkley credit for at least taking a shot and going after him. Nowitzki had other plans in his future. He ended up eventually in the NBA and starred with the Dallas Mavericks, winning an NBA Championship against LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Nowitzki went on to have a Hall of Fame career, averaging almost 21 points and eight rebounds per game. His most dominant year was 2011 when the Mavs won the NBA Championship and he was named league MVP. He was also named MVP of the NBA Finals.

Anyone who follows Barkley’s TV career knows he’s at times a harsh critic of today’s NBA players, so it’s rare that he has anything positive to say about any player, especially a former rival. But he was so impressed with Nowitzki that he was willing to risk his school getting in trouble with the NCAA  for trying to give him illegal benefits.

He thought Nowitzki was worth it, and he might have been right.

“It was beautiful to watch him play, and he’s such a good dude. But man, it was crazy.”

{The Pat McAfee Show}

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.