The Sixers, however, backed out of the deal, and Barkley said he ended up playing that night drunk after consuming alcohol all day in celebration of what he thought was an impending trade.
“My agent calls me one morning and he says, ‘Hey, you’re going to get traded to the Lakers today,’ and me and my friends, we go out and celebrate and get drunk about noon,” Barkley said on ESPN’s “The Lowe Post” podcast. “I’m on cloud nine. He calls me back three hours later, it’s like 3:30 now, he says, ‘The Sixers backed out of the deal.’ And, I’m drunk as [expletive] and we got a game that night, and I’m like, ‘What? What are you talking about?’ And, he’s like, ‘The Sixers were scared to pull the trigger.’ And, I said, ‘You’re kidding me. Dude, we got a game tonight and I’ve been drinking since noon.’
“The one thing that’s funny, I don’t even know how I played that night,” Barkley added. “I think I might have played bad because I was so angry the Sixers didn’t pull the trigger, and then it was just suffering the next two or three years.”
Barkley eventually was traded to the Phoenix Suns before the 1992-93 NBA season.
He ended up winning the league MVP award after he led the Suns to the best record in the NBA and an appearance in the NBA Finals; they lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.