Originally created 12/12/99

Rockets' Barkley undergoes knee surgery after career-ending blowout



HOUSTON -- Houston Rockets forward Charles Barkley underwent surgery Saturday to repair a severe knee injury that ended his basketball career.

Surgeons reattached the tendon that connects the quadriceps muscle to Barkley's left knee. The NBA star ruptured the tendon Wednesday night during the first quarter of the Rockets' 83-73 loss to the 76ers in Philadelphia, where Barkley began his NBA career.

"We couldn't be happier with how this thing repaired," Dr. Walter Lowe said after the surgery. "It was nice, healthy tissue."

Barkley is expected to be released from the hospital Monday, doctors said. He will require at least six months of rehabilitation.

Even then, the wisecracking power forward dubbed "Sir Charles" will never play basketball again. Even before the injury, the 36-year-old Barkley had said this season would be his last as a player.

Barkley said he knew his career was over the second he hit the floor Wednesday. His mental focus during rehabilitation, Barkley said Friday night, will be on skiing.

The Rockets, meanwhile, headed to New Jersey with yet another hole in the roster. Scottie Pippen was traded to Portland this year, and Hakeem Olajuwon is sidelined with a hernia. All five Rockets who started Friday night against Boston are new to Houston this season.

"Our security blanket is gone," coach Rudy Tomjanovich said Friday. "We were in transition anyway this year."

Drafted fifth overall out of Auburn by Philadelphia in 1984, Barkley helped the 76ers to the playoffs six times in eight years.

He also helped two U.S. Olympic teams to gold medals, was the NBA Most Valuable Player in 1993 with the Phoenix Suns, and was named one of the league's 50 greatest players.