Charles Barkley’s Secret Obsession: Perfectly Vacuumed Carpets

Former Sixers teammate and onetime roommate Scott Brooks says Chuck used to vacuum in the middle of the night.

Photo by John Locher/AP

Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks played two full seasons for the 76ers from 1988 to 1990, but in the fall of ’88 he was just a diminutive guard from UC Irvine who went undrafted and stood squarely on the roster bubble during preseason camp.

With starter Mo Cheeks hampered by a groin injury, Brooks was confident that he’d make the Sixers. But he remained unsure how long he’d stick in Philadelphia. He considered signing a six-month lease in the area at the time — that is until our pal Charles Barkley stepped in.

Brooks told the Washington Post that Sir Charles overheard his conversation with another teammate about signing the lease and invited him to be his houseguest instead.

Already an established star by that point, Barkley lived in a luxurious mansion that blew away the 23-year-old Brooks, who was surviving largely on his per-diem money. Chuck was a great roommate by all accounts — throwing Brooks $100 bills for food and allowing him drive his sports cars. The only problem was his cleaning habits were a bit … obsessive.

Brooks recalled waking up one night to a curious buzzing sound, but ultimately decided against investigating. When the noise returned a few weeks later, Brooks just had to ask Charles what was up.

“What the fuck do you think it is? I’m vacuuming!” Barkley told Brooks in a way that only he could. “I can’t sleep if the lines in the carpet aren’t straight enough!”

Confirming Brooks’ story to the newspaper, Barkley admitted that he’s a “clean fanatic” who isn’t able to sleep soundly unless all of the vacuumed lines in his carpet go the same way.

Despite Chuck’s odd cleaning quirks, he and Brooks developed a special bond that continues to this day.

“When you get an undrafted kid who ends up having the success he’s had, it just makes you feel proud,” Barkley said. “We’re probably similar in age, but it makes me kind of feel like a very proud older brother.”

Brooks, whose Wizards are currently locked in a playoff battle with the Boston Celtics, went on to play 10 seasons in the NBA for six different teams, including the 1993-1994 NBA champion Houston Rockets. He was even fined $500 once for leaving the Sixers bench during Barkley’s epic 1990 fight with Detroit Pistons goon Bill Laimbeer:

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