Re: Barkley: I'm better than Malone
Charles is right, Malone never reached the level Barkley was at from '88-'93.
Charles was a better scorer, passer and rebounder, plus he was more athletic and more versatile. Charles was just the better and more dominant offensive player, that's why he was double teamed so often. In fact, out of players in Barkley's era or later, the only players I can think of who were doubled teamed as much as Charles was in his prime are Shaq and Hakeem. It's always been surprising to me how dominant he was in the post with his power game at only 6'5"-6'6". He's easily among the greatest power players of all time, and played both forward positions during his career. He played small forward in '90 and '91 alongside Mike Gminski and Rick Mahorn, and later at times when he played with AC Green in Phoenix.
Malone was definitely a better defensive player than Barkley, he developed until a great post defender around '94 or so. Remember Malone shutting down Robinson in the playoffs? He also developed into a very good passer around that same time, and he improved his jump shot while also becoming more polished in the post.
I actually really like Malone's game from '94-'00, but he was usually a disappointment in the playoffs, even when he became more polished. And Charles is right that be benefited greatly from Stockton, particularly late 80's/early 90's Malone. Though the same can be said about Stockton.
Malone got a lot of easy baskets running the floor, in screen/rolls with Stockton, and early on from lob passes over the top when defenders fronted him. Even the more skilled version of Malone was usually a disappointment in the playoffs, while Barkley showed quite a bit more dominance in the playoffs. Malone had more team success, but Charles was only on 1 contending team in his prime back in '93.
Late 80's/early 90's Karl Malone was still one of the league's best players, though. His post game was effective based on his quickness and strength. He was a great power player, and he did already have a jump shot, plus no 4 ran the floor better.
There's a common misconception about Barkley that he lacked longevity, but that's not true, we can't forget that he turned 30 in the '93 season, most players start to decline a bit shortly after that. He didn't remain at his prime level consistently due to injuries, and perhaps age, but he was still the second best power forward, and easily a top 10 player in '94 and '95. And he showed dominance even before his prime started in '88. Despite being raw in his second year in '86, he already probably established himself among the top players in the league.
His conditioning is also a misconception, his weight was not really an issue after his first year or 2 until he got to Houston. And even in Houston in '97, he averaged about 19/14/5 while sharing the ball with Olajuwon and Drexler and having his offensive game limited by the system. He was averaging 20/15 the first 2 months before injuries.
Malone's longevity was just superhuman, it was really only rivaled by Kareem and Robert Parish.
This isn't to say that Barkley didn't have his flaws as well. it's common knowledge that he was not exactly fond on playing defense, and he also had a habit of holding the ball too much which often led to turnovers because he'd leave his feet for cross court passes because he had trouble seeing over the double at times. He cut down on holding the ball by the time he got to Phoenix, and also improved his jumper. Though I don't think he had the same explosiveness despite getting in the best shape of his career and still being a very good athlete.