After 12 successful seasons split between Philadelphia and Phoenix, Barkley still carried a strong desire to capture the one thing missing from his career—an NBA championship.
The Suns then set him up with the best chance to realize that dream by trading him in 1996 to a Houston Rockets team that had won two of the past three titles.
Barkley joined a Hall of Fame Rockets core that included Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon. At 33 years old, he was the youngest of the three, but the trio was still wildly productive on the floor (all averaged at least 18.0 points per game that season).
But the Rockets couldn't solve the Utah Jazz's own historic combo of John Stockton and Karl Malone.
Houston and Utah split the first four games of the Western Conference Finals, with both teams protecting their home courts. The Jazz built a 3-2 advantage behind their Game 5 win in Utah.
When the series went back to Houston, the Rockets had no answer for the balanced Jazz starters. Each Utah starter scored at least 15 points, with Malone and Stockton combining for 49.
And Barkley could never get himself going. He finished with 20 points in 39 minutes but shot just 38.5 percent from the field.
The game proved to be Barkley's last realistic shot at a title. He played three more seasons in Houston, but the Rockets never made it out of the first round.
Fair or not, this forever added an asterisk alongside Barkley's achievements. It left him destined to be remembered as one of basketball's greatest players to have never won a championship.