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Barkley Leaning Toward Retirement

May 16, 1999

HOUSTON (AP) _ Fresh on the heels of Houston’s ouster from the NBA playoffs, Charles Barkley is considering retirement.

``I’m going to think very hard before I make my decision,″ Barkley, 36, said Saturday night after he led the Rockets with 20 points in a 98-88 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers that ended Houston’s season.

``I want to win a championship and I also want to walk away playing at a high level. I’m going to sit back and think it through before I make any decisions.″

Barkley scored 30 points in Thursday’s victory over the Lakers, the only game Houston won in the best-of-5 series. His 23 rebounds Thursday were one short of a career playoff high and his 15 boards-per-game average was tops in the league in the opening postseason round.

``Realistically, we are going to be a year older next year and I don’t know what we can do,″ he said. ``I like everyone on this team.

``This year has been fun because we have some great guys but the big question is how good can we be. I’m leaning toward retirement.″

His 24 points-per-game average in the playoffs was the best among the Rockets and well over his 16-point average for the regular season.

Barkley, after 14 years in the NBA and the last three in Houston, played this season for the league minimum $1 million.

``I’m not going to play just for money,″ he said. ``I want to win. It’s going to be a hard decision. It all comes down to how good this team can be.″

Barkley is a former league MVP and is one of only three players in NBA history to top 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds and 4,000 assists in a career.

He missed nearly two weeks of the regular season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to his left knee.

``Realistically, it is going to take a lot for me to come back and play basketball,″ he said. ``I’m disappointed it (the season) ended but we did the best we could. I’m at peace with myself.″

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