Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan were very close during their playing careers. Jordan and Barkley entered the NBA at the same time, as part of the legendary’
Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan were very close during their playing careers. Jordan and Barkley entered the NBA at the same time, as part of the legendary 1984 NBA Draft class. Jordan went to the Bulls, and Chuck would join the Philadelphia 76ers. But Barkley found more success when he was in the Western Conference.
Barkley got traded to the Phoenix Suns, where he established himself as one of the best players in the NBA. He was named the 1993 NBA MVP when he led the Suns to the NBA Finals to face off against his close friend Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Jordan got the better of Barkley and the Suns, but their friendship remained intact.
In fact, Barkley once revealed the story of how Michael Jordan once called him up at 4 AM after a bad playoff loss, when he was with the Houston Rockets. MJ called Barkley, who said that he was pouting. To help lift his spirits, MJ said he would pick up Barkley on the jet and take him to play golf to help him feel better (1:23 mark).
“I lost one time, and I was playing for the Rockets. Michael calls me at about 3-4 in the morning. He says ‘what you doing’? I said ‘nothing, sitting here sulking because we lost last night’. He said ‘I’ll pick you up in 4 hours. I’m coming to get you, we’ll go play some golf. Season is over, you need to get away’. And then 4 hours later, he picked me up at the private airport right by my house on his private jet…”
Clearly, MJ and Barkley were close friends, and Jordan wanted to help his friend feel better. But over the last decade, Jordan and Barkley had a falling out. Barkley was critical of Michael Jordan’s strategy as the owner of the Charlotte Hornets and told him not to hire his friends. MJ didn’t take this criticism kindly and stopped talking to Barkley after that.
“We’re not. And I take some responsibility for that. I criticized [him]–he was one of my best friends, and I definitely love him and miss him, to be honest with you, but I, Bob, I have to do my job. I said, at the time, and we can debate whether I should have said it, but I was asked a question, and I’m told (to) always be honest at my job. I said, ‘I don’t know if Michael’s ever going to be successful [running the Charlotte Hornets] because I don’t know if he got enough strong people around him.’”
While they were friends off the court, Barkley and MJ were fiercely competitive on the court. Barkley once got very annoyed with a referee for not calling a foul on Michael Jordan during a game, suggesting that the referee was showing favoritism to MJ.
We hope that these two can eventually reconcile. Barkley and Jordan are two of the best players in NBA history. And their friendship created a lot of interesting moments, including a hilarious commercial for Nike which was made when Jordan had retired, and Nike was trying to position him as the new active face of the brand.