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Barkley Says He Simply Was Defending Himself : Pro basketball: Forward for 76ers acknowledges punching man in Milwaukee, but claims he was provoked.

From Associated Press

Philadelphia 76er forward Charles Barkley, known for his combativeness on court, wasn’t shy about defending his role in a weekend altercation that ended with his arrest.

Barkley acknowledged breaking a Milwaukee man’s nose early Sunday morning, but said he was defending himself.

Barkley, an eight-year pro and a member of the U.S. Olympic team, was arrested about five hours after the incident and released on $500 bail, police said.

“The man follows me for a block and a half, messes with me and harasses who I’m with,” Barkley said Monday at Philadelphia’s practice. “I can only ignore so much, and I wasn’t going to fight the guy. But when he walks up to me with his fist balled up, saying he wants a shot at me, I’m going to defend myself. . . . “

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According to Milwaukee police, Barkley, 28, and a woman were leaving a downtown tavern about 2:30 a.m. when 25-year-old Joseph McCarthy called out to him: “Charles, I hear you’re one of the baddest dudes in the NBA.”

Barkley told police that McCarthy and three of McCarthy’s companions then approached him and McCarthy raised his fist saying: “You’re so tough on the court. Show me how tough you are.”

Police said Barkley then punched McCarthy once in the face with his left fist. Police also said that Barkley told them McCarthy’s companions had surrounded him and his friend when two bouncers intervened and took him to his friend’s car.

“He had a couple of guys with him, and I didn’t trust those guys,” Barkley said Monday. “I thought they were going to jump me.”

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According to police, McCarthy said he told Barkley that he had heard the player was “one of the baddest dudes in the NBA,” but denied saying anything else.

McCarthy declined to comment on the incident.

McCarthy suffered the broken nose and cuts to his forehead, police said.

Barkley said that since the incident occurred off the court, it had nothing to do with the 76ers.

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In his new autobiography, “Outrageous!” Barkley writes that he does not like to socialize with strangers when traveling.

“I’m not very comfortable with strangers I meet on the road,” he wrote, adding there are “loonies out there who resent the kind of money athletes make and who think I’m supposed to be different from what I am. I’ve met a lot of real knuckleheads since I came to the NBA, a lot of people who look like they might want to make a name for themselves by assaulting Charles Barkley.”

In his book, he says he realizes that if he were not an athlete, most people would “run in the other direction if they saw me coming.”

“For most of us, it isn’t long before the allure wears thin and the constant attention becomes a real pain,” he wrote, “because people care less and less these days about respecting our privacy.”

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Barkley is scheduled for an appearance today before the Milwaukee district attorney, at which time charges will be reviewed, authorities said. Barkley said his lawyer will represent him at the hearing. McCarthy declined to say whether he would attend.

The maximum penalty for battery in Wisconsin is nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Barkley was fined $109 by Milwaukee police in April on a charge of disorderly conduct after he threw cups of Gatorade on Buck fans at the Bradley Center during a first-round playoff game.

A month earlier, the NBA had suspended Barkley for a game and fined him $10,000 for spitting on fans during a 98-95 overtime loss to the New Jersey Nets.

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Last season, the league fined Barkley $39,000 for on-court incidents, including a $20,000 penalty for fighting with Bill Laimbeer of the Detroit Pistons.


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