Charles Barkley Reveals Details of Rift With Michael Jordan

Getty CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 28: 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. (Photo credit should read BRIAN BAHR/AFP via Getty Images)

Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan were once good friends, but things have changed.

Barkley recently sat down with David Aldridge of The Athletic and discussed the details of the rift between the two Hall-of-Famers as well as the foreboding outlook on a potential reconciliation.

What Happened Between Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan?

According to Barkley, the two men had enjoyed a friendship of more than 20 years, but that came to a screeching halt after Barkley’s critical comments concerning Jordan’s management style with the Charlotte Bobcats (now Charlotte Hornets) organization.

Barkley told Aldridge:

We were great friends forever. I miss Michael. I love Michael. I wish him nothing but the best. He’s the greatest basketball player ever. But obviously, he didn’t take kindly to some things I said about his management skills. And that’s unfortunate. That’s unfortunate. But I’ve got to do my job …

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Jordan, who as most can imagine, isn’t accustomed to being told he is failing at anything over the past 20-30 years of winning championships with the Chicago Bulls and various other accomplishments, didn’t take kindly to his friends’ public criticism, and that has seemingly created the divide.

Barkley added these comments during the interview when asked about a possible reconciliation:

You know, you sound like some of my friends. That can’t happen because I didn’t do anything wrong. I would love to be friends with Michael ’cause, like I say, he was great to me for 20-some years and I love him like a brother. He was like a brother to me. But our last conversation, he was not very happy with some things I was saying about him on television. … My criticisms, No. 1, were fair …

Was Barkley Wrong in this Situation?

The root of Barkley’s criticism of the Bobcats, according to him, was aimed at the people Jordan hired to be a part of the team’s front office. He described them as “yes men.”

Barkley said:

Don’t you have friends who you’re not sure how they’re gonna react when you’re honest with them? Especially somebody on his level. And like I say, hey, I love the dude. He’s the best I’ve ever seen. It’s unfortunate the way things went down. But I’m going to always try to do my job. And actually, my criticism was about the people around him. … I thought the people he hired around him were too many yes men. That was actually my statement, to be honest. I thought the people around him, they wanted the private jet. They wanted the steak dinner. They were always going to be yes men.

The answer to the question in the subheadline depends on who you ask. Some will see it from Barkley’s perspective and others from Jordan’s point of view–whatever that is because he hasn’t spoken about it publicly.

However, it’s not hard to imagine Jordan taking umbrage with the platform more so than the actual criticism. If you’re a prominent figure and you have a good friend who is also well-known, and that buddy uses their platform to criticize your work publicly, it’s bound to sting a bit.

While it might be unfair to ask Barkley not to remain as candid and outspoken when speaking about a friend as he is with everyone else, it’s also equally uneven to expect a Jordan to be unaffected by this sort of public attack on his potency as an executive.

In any case, here’s to hoping these two find a way to get on better terms. I think we’ve all learned in 2020 life is too short for arguments with friends and family.

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