Charles Barkley still has respect for Michael Jordan, but it doesn’t seem as if that feeling is mutual.
The former NBA star opened up on his relationship with Jordan during an interview on the “Waddle and Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000 in Chicago. Barkley was recently featured in ESPN’s documentary series “The Last Dance” so it seemed like a natural thing to ask.
Barkley said his friendship with Jordan deteriorated following comments he made several years ago regarding how Jordan runs the Charlotte NBA franchise.
“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 added that being an analyst on TNT means he can’t put friendships over analysis. And saying Jordan is doing a good job with the Bobcats/Hornets wouldn’t be accurate.
“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,” Barkley said.
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. Barkley was accurate in saying Jordan needs to switch something up to be successful, but it doesn’t appear as if the former Bulls star wants to listen.
“The guy was like a brother to me for, shoot, 20-something years,” Barkley said. “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.”
The former Round Mound of Rebound says Jordan has his number and can call him anytime. But since he hasn’t heard from him in “a long time,” he doesn’t plan to get a call any time soon.
Also, don’t expect Barkley to apologize for his comments. He also touched on this subject in a recent podcast interview with David Aldridge on “Hoops Adjacent.” Barkley defended the comments that caused Jordan to be upset with him.
“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,” Barkley said. “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.”