When Charles Barkley came here to Philadelphia as the No. 5 overall pick of the 1984 NBA draft, he really preferred to be somewhere else.

Weighing some 300-plus pounds during his first training camp as a rookie, Barkley says he struggled to fit and sought counsel from elsewhere.

“I was really struggling in the beginning,” Barkley admitted.

Barkley says he turned to the Sixers workhorse at the time, Moses Malone, for advice.

"I pulled Moses aside and asked him, ‘Why am I not playing more?'” Barkley recalled on Sunday.

Malone turned, looked him up and down and declared, “You’re fat and you’re lazy, that’s why. You can’t play basketball if you’re not in shape.”

It was on from there, with Barkley losing 55 pounds over the next few months and making the all-rookie team.

Once Malone retired, whenever Barkley saw his old teammate, which was a handful of times a season, he always greeted him in the same manner: “Hey, Dad!”

Barkley explained why, per NBA.com.

“The man I called ‘Dad’ passed today. Words can’t explain my sadness. I will never know why a Hall of Famer took a fat, lazy kid from Auburn and treated him like a son and got him in shape and made him a player.

Every time I saw him I called him ‘Dad.’ I hope he knew how much I appreciated and loved him.”

When Barkley was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he chose Malone and longtime Phoenix Suns owner and executive Jerry Colangelo to present him.

By Glenn Erby

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