“That stuff’s not that important to me. I’ve had an unbelievable life,” Barkley told Birmingham’s WJOX-FM last week, explaining why he isn’t sentimentally attached to his possessions. “I’ve been in Leeds a lot and we’ve probably got 30 eyesores, as I call them, where houses used to be when I was growing up. Either a rotted-out house or there’s just weeds that have overgrown.
“So, what I’m trying to do — I want to work with the city of Leeds, I want them to give me the spaces, number one. I want them to give me the houses, and I’m going to use my own money, selling my memorabilia.”
Panini, a sports card and memorabilia company that Barkley has a relationship with, estimated that the MVP trophy alone could fetch $300,000 to $400,000, Barkley said. And his 1992 and 1996 Olympic gold medals? “ ‘I don’t even want to guess,’ ” Barkley said he was told, “ ‘but I can get you a lot for those gold medals.’ ”
“I got an autograph deal with Panini and I was talking to the guys,” Barkley said. “All that stuff is at my grandmother’s house; I don’t even keep it, to be honest with you. And I said, ‘How much could I get for my MVP trophy and my two gold medals? And I got an autographed plaque signed by the  Dream Team.’ He says, ‘Oh, I can get you a lot of money for that stuff.’ ”
The part of the plan to sell the Dream Team gold hit a small snag. “I checked with my daughter,” Barkley said. “All that stuff is her crap, to be honest with you. I told her when she was home, ‘I want to get rid of all this stuff; it’s yours.’ … She said, ‘Dad, if you’re going to build affordable housing in Leeds, I would love for you to do it, but I want one piece.’ I said: ‘Whatever you want. You can have the MVP trophy or the gold medals.’
“So I think she’s going to take the ’92 gold medal because of how sentimental it is to the world, the first time we sent pros to the Olympics. All that other stuff is just an eyesore.”
Barkley went to high school in Leeds, which is about 20 miles east of Birmingham, and played collegiately at Auburn from 1981 to 1984. Now working for TNT, Barkley lives in Arizona but remains vocal about his Alabama roots. He has toyed with the idea of running for political office and hasn’t shied away from offering his opinion, whether it’s about Roy Moore when he was a candidate for Senate in 2017, the issues of race and poverty, or President Trump.
“I want to do something really nice for Leeds. And if I could build 10 to 20 affordable houses — I want to do green housing, too,” he said. “If I could sell all that stuff, it would just be a really cool thing for me.”
In 2015, Barkley explained his history with the community, telling the Undefeated that he had been the first black baby born in a segregated town hospital and was one of the first black students to attend his elementary school. “The system has just robbed the money dry, and the whites have moved into really nice neighborhoods and built their own public, I mean ‘private’ schools,” Barkley said then.
For years, his mother or grandmother kept his memorabilia. Now, “it just clutters up my house,” Barkley told “The Dan LeBatard Show” last week. “It’s just a bunch of crap. They all passed away and I don’t want that stuff crappin’ up my house.” Just what else might be hitting the market? Barkley wouldn’t say, but in 2018 he told Sports Illustrated that he has a “trove of priceless mementos” at his Scottsdale, Ariz., home.
Among the goodies: “An American flag signed by his fellow 1992 Dream Teamers, including Michael Jordan. Autographed jerseys and shoes from his teammates at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. His 1993 NBA MVP trophy. An enlarged photograph of himself, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell taken at a recent NCAA Final Four. And perhaps his most prized item: an autographed Russell jersey that commemorates the Boston legend’s five MVPs and 11 NBA championships. ‘If there was a fire, I’d probably grab the Russell jersey first,’ " Barkley said. “ ‘Bill don’t sign s---.’ ”
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