The friendship between Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan continues to be on the sidelines with ESPN’S much-anticipated “The Last Dance” documentary slated to be released Sunday.
The two NBA legends were close friends upon joining the league together in the mid-1980s, and were teammates on the Dream Team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
But Barkley admits their relationship hasn’t been the same since 2018, when he criticized Jordan’s front-office track record both with Washington after his first retirement and then as part owner in Charlotte since 2006.
“We were great friends forever,” Barkley said of Jordan on the David Aldridge’s “Hoops, Adjacent” podcast. “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 …”
Barkley has been an oft-outspoken analyst for TNT since he was hired in 2000, and rarely shies away from offering his critique of the game’s biggest names or regarding topics outside basketball.
Jordan — the NBA’s all-time leader in scoring average at 30.1 points per game, and the winner of five MVP awards and six NBA titles — was no exception.
“Don’t you have friends who you’re not sure how they’re gonna react when you’re honest with them?” Barkley told Aldridge. “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.”
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