A Broken NBA Friendship- Behind Michael Jordan & Charles Barkley’s Decade Long Feud

Published 02/02/2021, 2:07 PM EST
Michael Jordan battles Charles Barkley during a 1991 playoff game in Chicago. Photo by Jerry Lodriguss / The Philadelphia Inquirer


If anyone defined bromance in the NBA during the 90s, it was Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. The duo famously played a round of golf during the 1993 NBA Finals; that’s how close their bond was. Until it all turned sour.

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Just like the way Jordan was unrivaled when it came to balling, His Airness was equally unrivaled when it came to making poor decisions in NBA franchise ownership history.

His bad draft picks are the stuff of nightmares at Charlotte Hornets, though his worst one, Kwame Brown, came when he was the President at the Washington Wizards.

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CHARLOTTE, NC – NOVEMBER 5: NBA Legend and Charlotte Hornets Owner, Michael Jordan looks on during a game between the Indiana Pacers and the Charlotte Hornets on November 5, 2019 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

Barkley, who swears by honesty, had to gather the courage to criticize his now ex-best friend. In 2012, he appeared on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000 and made the following remarks about his GM skills.

“I think the biggest problem has been I don’t know if he has hired enough people around him who he will listen to. One thing about being famous is the people around you, you pay all their bills so they very rarely disagree with you because they want you to pick up the check… I love Michael, but he just has not done a good job.”

Apparently, His Airness did not take too kindly to his friend’s advice or rather blunt criticism. He called the Chuckster and rebuked him; that’s the last time the two ever had a one-on-one conversation. They are, as Barkley puts it, no longer friends.

Is the relationship between Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley salvageable?

When the Last Dance came out in the summer of 2020, it opened a debate over who was the guilty party in the instance. MJ advocate Stephen A. Smith sided with the Chicago Bulls star and thinks they could repair their friendship if Charles rings Michael to sort out their differences.

“Barkley should have called Jordan, that’s what it comes down to… If you have a personal relationship with him, he should have found out what you have to say on National Television. That was his big issue with Charles Barkley,” said Smith.

He continued, “If you are going to handle things differently, Call him! Which Charles Barkley said to my face he ain’t doing and Michael Jordan knows Charles Barkley would never do that.”

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Hilariously, or rather in pettiness, Charles expects Michael to ping him first as well, “Oh, he got my number. He can call me.”

CHICAGO – JUNE 18: Charles Barkley #34 of the Phoenix Suns chats with Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls in Game Five of the 1993 NBA Finals on June 18, 1993 at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois. The Suns won 108-98. Copyright 1993 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

So, there you have it – their ego is standing in the way of any possible reconciliation. Both were alpha males during their playing days and their irrepressible pride is reflecting here, as well. Their friendship is, hence, a thing of the past.

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Bharat Aggarwal

615 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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