In a past life, Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan had the type of friendship that we all aspire to have, complete with golf outings, friendship bracelets, and a bar fight or seven. But somewhere along the way, things went left, and Barkley admits that the fervor surrounding ESPN’s The Last Dance has him feeling some kind of way about his former BFF.
“The guy was like a brother to me for, shoot, 20-something years,” Barkley said on Tuesday’s Waddle and Silvy Show on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. “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.”
So what exactly created a schism between the two Dream Teamers? If you let Barkley tell it, His Airness isn’t particularly fond of constructive criticism. In particular, Barkley pointing out Jordan’s shortcomings as the owner of the Charlotte Hornets.
“The thing that bothered me the most about that whole thing, I don’t think that I said anything that bad,” Barkley said. “I’m pretty sure I said, ‘As much as I love Michael, until he stops hiring them kiss-asses, and his best friends, he’s never going to be successful as a general manager.’ And I remember pretty much verbatim I said that. And the thing that really pissed me off about it later is Phil Jackson said the exact same thing.”
Barkley then explained that because Jordan has put so many of his friends and associates on his payroll, that their ability to be truthful is compromised.
“I thought that was one of the reasons we were great friends,” he continued. “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.”
Jordan’s dominance as a player goes unquestioned, but it’s not exactly a secret that he’s struggled since transitioning to the front office.
From Sporting News:
In 14 seasons of owning the Hornets, Jordan’s teams have only finished above .500 three times. His teams have a combined regular-season record of 464-651 (.416) and have only made three playoff appearances.
Probably because the Hornet’s habitually draft players like Noah Vonleh and Adam Morrison while throwing precious cap space at castoffs like Terry Rozier. That’s just a hunch, though.
But is there any chance of reconciliation between Jordan and the Round Mound of Rebound?
“Oh, he got my number,” Barkley said. “He can call me.”
Alrighty then. Though should Jordan decide to pick up the phone, don’t expect an apology.
“Don’t you have friends who you’re not sure how they’re gonna react when you’re honest with them?” Barkley said on a recent episode of the Hoops Adjacent podcast. “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.”