AUBURN - Charles Barkley, nearing 50 now, was there, laughing as always and bragging about losing 55 pounds. So were Chris Morris, Jeff Moore and Gerald White, who helped take Auburn oh so close to a national championship in 1986.
Jeff Moore, left, and Charles Bakley on Friday at the Auburn University Club/Phillip Marshall photo
Chris Porter, who led the way to Auburn's greatest season in 1999, was there was teammates Scottie Pohlman and Bryant Smith. So was Marquis Daniels, who took the 2003 team on his shoulders all the way to the Sweet 16 and a one-point loss to eventual national champion Syracuse.
Earl Banks, who didn't like going to class and now is a teacher at Benjamin Russell High School and is months away Dr. Banks, was there, along with Bobby Cattage, to reminisce with their coach, Sonny Smith.
It was the second Auburn basketball letterman's reunion, put together by head coach Tony Barbee to bring former players back to the program and support his M.A.D.E. (Making A Difference Everywhere) foundation to help underprivileged children.
Some 40 Auburn lettermen gathered Thursday night tell stories about the old days and played golf on Friday at the Auburn University Club.
Sonny Smith, who coached so many of them, was wearing the biggest of smiles.
"It's wonderful," Smith said. "It brings back old memories, the good ones. Rehashing them. Hugging people. It means more to you now than it did a few years ago. Everybody is excited to see one another. It's fun.
"There are so many stories that make you feel good. Earl Banks was an outstanding player but didn't like going to school. He walked up to me and told e he's going to get his doctorate in a few months. That makes you feel good. It's that kind of thing that drives you and makes you feel good about what you've done."
Barkley, who has parlayed basketball greatness into TV stardom, posed for pictures, signed autographs and reveled in the stories.
"I've had a great life," Barkley said. "It tell people all the time that I get paid to watch sports, and I'd be watching sports anyway."
Barkley and the rest saluted Barbee for bringing them back together.
"All these guys said we would love to come back," Barkley said. "We've never been invited back. I love seeing all these guys, the guys who played after me and the guys who played with me. I haven't seen some of these guys in 30 years."
For Barbee, heading toward his third Auburn season, it's all part of what he's trying to build.
"It's one of the things I talked about, not just building a team but putting together and program and building a family," Barbee said. "That can't just start with the guys that you recruit. It starts with the former players. It's important to me that the current players understand what came before them. When they are playing for something bigger than themselves, that's when something big and something special happens.
"It's great to bring back the former players, get them invested back in the program and at the same time help a worthy cause."