By Ray Boyd

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s amazing to think that two Hall of Fame big men were once patrolling the Sixers front court together. Moses Malone, who established himself as one of the best big men in the league took a young rookie under his wing and helped to make him into one of the best big men in the league.

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That rookie was Charles Barkley. What the two developed was more than a teammate relationship. In fact, it transcended that as well as mere friendship. Malone became like a father figure to Barkley.

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When Moses Malone passed away on September 13, Barkley lost a teammate, a mentor and a father. Barkley released a statement following the news in which he said “I will never know why a Hall of Famer took a fat lazy kid from Auburn and treated him like a son.”

Barkley was asked to speak at Malone’s funeral, and delivered a very heartfelt message about the man who had such a profound impact on him.

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“I called Moses dad,” Barkley told the room full of people. “I haven’t called him Moses since 1985.”

Barkley expressed his mixed emotions on the day as well. “This is one of the coolest things to ever happen to me in my life,” Barkley explained about speaking at the funeral. “Because when the family called me and asked me to speak, this means that Moses had told them he was proud of me and that’s the sweet part.”

While the former Sixers star recognized the sweet, he couldn’t ignore the bitter.

“This day is bitter and it’s sweet,” Barkley said. “The world is a sadder place because he’s not here.”

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