Charles Barkley’s role on television is to put things as bluntly as possible. It’s something he’s done quite well over the years, and it’s a character trait that has been a part of Barkley’s personality for his entire life. While that makes him one of the more compelling broadcasters in the world of sports, it has ruffled plenty of feathers over the years, and even cost him a prominent friendship.
Back in 2012, Barkley was ultra-critical of Michael Jordan’s performance as the owner of the then-Charlotte Bobcats, saying that Jordan surrounded himself with yes men and that “even though he is one of my great friends, I can’t get on here and tell you he’s done a great job.” This did not sit well with Jordan, and it led to a rift between the two that still exists to this day.
Barkley appeared on ESPN Radio in Chicago on Tuesday and spoke about where things stand with Jordan following the latest editions of The Last Dance. While he stressed that he still believes Jordan is “the greatest basketball player ever,” he’s still “really, really sad” about how things broke down between himself and a person he considered a brother.
“The thing that bothered me the most about that whole thing, I don’t think that I said anything that bad,” Barkley said, per Nick Friedell of ESPN. “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.”
One thing made clear in The Last Dance is that no human is better at holding onto slights than Jordan, but in fairness to Barkley, MJ’s tenure as the owner of the Bobcats/Hornets hasn’t been particularly fruitful. Since 2011, Jordan’s first as the franchise’s majority owner, Charlotte has gone 286-419 with two playoff berths, both of which saw the team get knocked out in the first round. If blame starts at the top in these situations, then yes, Jordan’s tenure could objectively be going much better.
Perhaps time will lead to this situation resolving itself, although it’s hard to assume that will happen. But hopefully they get back on speaking terms, if only because the first episode of Inside the NBA with Michael Jordan would be outrageously good.