Monday, March 1, 2021

Charles Barkley Reflects Over End of Friendship with Michael Jordan: ‘The Guy Was Like A Brother To Me’

Michael Jordan Charles Barkley
Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley (34) laughs at a foul call with Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan (23) in the first half 28 January 1996 at the United Center in Chicago. The Bulls won 93-82. Jordan scored 31 points, and Barkley scored 20 with 16 rebounds. AFP PHOTO Brian BAHR (Photo by BRIAN BAHR / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRIAN BAHR/AFP via Getty Images)

*Despite being “friends” for over 20 years, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley’s relationship has been strained since Barkley criticized Jordan’s mismanagement running the then-Charlotte Bobcats.

In an interview with ESPN Radio, Charles admitted that he feels “sadness” that he and Jordan haven’t spoken in years, and the comments come after their longtime NBA rivalry was heavily featured in episodes five and six of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary.

“The guy was like a brother to me for, shoot, 20-something years,” Barkley said on Tuesday. “At least 20-something years. And I do, I feel sadness. But to me he’s still the greatest basketball player ever. I wish him nothing but the best. But, there’s nothing I can do about it, brother.”

As noted by PEOPLE, the comments that sparked the feud eight years ago came when Barkley accused Jordan of hiring people who would not disagree with his decisions as part-owner of the Bobcats.

“I love Michael, but he just has not done a good job,” Barkley said at the time. 

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“The thing that bothered me the most about that whole thing, I don’t think that I said anything that bad,” Barkley told ESPN Radio of the feud. “I’m pretty sure I said, ‘As much as I love Michael, until he stops hiring them kiss-a—es, and his best friends, he’s never going to be successful as a general manager.’ And I remember pretty much verbatim I said that.”

Barkley said he was shocked that Jordan took his comments the wrong way, because he thought his honesty was why MJ valued their friendship.

“Listen, if you’re famous, and Michael at one point was the most famous person in the world, everybody around you is either on the payroll or letting you buy drinks and dinner and flying around on your private jet,” Barkley said. Very few of your friends are going to be honest with you. But I thought that was one of the reasons we were great friends. Like, ‘I can ask Charles anything and I know he’s going to give me a straight answer.’ But part of my job [as an analyst] is, because I can’t go on TV and say ‘another general manager sucks’ and then just because Michael’s like a brother to me say ‘He’s doing a fantastic job.’ That would be disingenuous.”

He also noted that Phil Jackson, Jordan’s former Chicago Bulls Coach, made similar comments about MJ’s mismanagement as an executive but their relationship was not fractured by it.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.



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