Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley: From best friends to strangers

From best friends to strangers: NBA legends Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley had the closest of bonds but it was shattered in one expletive-laden phone call… here’s how their relationship turned sour

  • Jordan went ‘ballistic’ & called Barkley a ‘motherf****r’ in their last conversation
  • The pair first met in 1984 at the Team USA Olympic trials and became friends
  • Click here for all your latest international sports news from DailyMail.com 

Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley are two of the biggest names in contemporary basketball, and in truth it has been this way for decades. 

The powerful pair have been pillars in the sports world for efforts on and, in Barkley’s case mostly, also off the floor.

Once best friends, their relationship deteriorated from a brotherly bond to estrangement in just one phone call, a decade ago. 

Barkley has spoken about the dissolvement of his relationship with the six-time NBA Champion regularly throughout the years, though there has been no resolution then, or now. 

The Chuckster recently spoke about Jordan in sit-down interviews this month to various outlets. 

Given the fascination with two of the NBA’s most powerful players and personalities, Dailymail.com takes a look at how Barkley and Jordan got here – and whether it can ever be repaired.

Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan — pictured in 1996 — were once closely-bonded friends

Barkley and Jordan have not spoken for ‘probably, close to a decade’ per the NBA broadcaster

Why now? 

The one-sided beef between Jordan and Barkley is nothing new. Though, the Round Mound of Rebound was asked about His Airness during an interview last Sunday on 60 Minutes. 

Barkley explained the final conversation he had with Jordan, which has been repeated by Barkley often throughout the years. 

‘Michael disagreed with something I said, and he broke off the friendship. And what I said, I think that he don’t have enough people around him that are gonna tell him, ‘No.’

‘And he got really offended, and we haven’t spoken. But I’m gonna do my job, because I have zero credibility if I criticize other people in the same boat and not criticize my best friend.

When asked if he would ever swallow his pride and look to be the man to mend their once close relationship, Barkley replied; ‘I got an ego too, Jon,’ he said, speaking to 60 Minutes’ Jon Wertheim. 

‘You can’t be great at something… that doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk. He got my number.’ 

Charles Barkley said he won’t be picking up the phone to mend his relationship with Jordan

What happened? 

Jordan and Barkley were still friends in the early 2010s with the latter professing his love for the Bulls great in various interviews. 

Though it appears a 2012 ESPN radio interview was the undoing of their relationship. Barkley has never specified which interview, nor when exactly Jordan called, but he speculated on All The Smoke it is now ‘probably close to 10 years ago.’ 

‘He was my best friend at the time,’ Barkley told Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes last month. ‘And I love the guy and miss the guy, but, you know, I gotta do my job.’ 

‘I said, “I don’t know if he’s ever going to be successful because of the people around him. I think he hires too many of his friends.” 

‘He was struggling as a general manager, running the team, and I said, “I don’t know if he’s ever going to be successful ’cause the people around him are never gonna tell him “no.”

“He went ballistic – he called me, and that’s the last thing I heard was “motherf*****r, f*** you! You supposed to be my boy.” And I said, “man, I gotta do my job.” And we haven’t spoken since that night, and that was probably close to ten years ago.’

Barkley is known for his outspoken opinions, and kept the same energy for his now ex-friend

Michael Jordan’s Charlotte franchise have struggled for NBA relevancy since his involvement

The interview

The interview Barkley is seemingly referring to took place on March 1, 2012. At that point, the franchise had a 4-29 record, and lost 19 of its previous 20 games. 

‘I think the biggest problem has been I don’t know if he has hired enough people around him who he will listen to,’ Barkley told ESPN 1000’s The Waddle & Silvy Show

‘I love Michael, but he just has not done a good job,’ Chuck continued. ‘Even though he is one of my great friends, I can’t get on here and tell you he’s done a great job. He has not done a great job, plain and simple.’

Barkley then gave an example from the 2006 NBA Draft, showcasing Jordan’s sheer force of personality and how it may have contributed to decisions in the front office. 

Jordan told his then-close friend, the Bobcats (now Hornets) were looking at Adam Morrison – who they ultimately took – with the No. 3 pick.

‘I said “Michael, I think you should take Brandon Roy, and he said “We like Adam Morrison,” Barkley said. 

‘I said “Adam Morrison can’t play.” I said “let me ask you a question, did you say Adam Morrison first and [the front office] agreed with you or did they say Adam Morrison first?”

‘He said “What do you mean?” I said “Michael, nobody wants to disagree with you. You are such a powerful personality nobody, especially your flunkies as I call them, the flunkies are never going to disagree with you.” Adam Morrison is a nice kid. He can’t play in the NBA.”

Morrison played just two seasons in Charlotte, starting just 28 games in his four-season career in the Association.

Meanwhile, Roy was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2006, was a 3x All-Star and had a seven-year NBA career. 

‘I didn’t think Michael was going to react like that, to be honest with you,’ Barkley said in a separate interview. 

The Charlotte Bobcats took Adam Morrison (CR) over Brandon Roy (CL) in the 2006 NBA Draft

Jordan and Barkley were teammates for several years as part of Team USA’s The Dream Team

The Better Times 

Barkley and Jordan came into the NBA in the same season — two picks apart to be precise. 

Jordan was taken No. 3 overall by the Chicago Bulls, while Barkley went No. 5 to the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1984 Draft.

The pair struck up a bond during their time in the Association, after first meeting at Olympic trials.

‘I love him,’ Barkley said in a now-famous 2005 Oprah interview with him and Jordan. ‘We met in ’84 at the Olympic trials and we just had a chemistry.’ 

‘He’s always going to tell me the truth. His truth,’ Jordan said of Barkley. ‘Which is good, ’cause it gives me something to think about from a different perspective. 

‘I got other friends that tell me the truth, but it’s good to have a guy who’s been in the same situation. Look at him, how can you not love him?’ 

Both Jordan and Barkley golfed together often during their years of friendship. 

Barkley told the Sub Par Podcast about a time when Jordan picked him up in his private plane after a playoff loss while a member of the Houston Rockets.

‘I lost one time and Michael calls me about three, four in the morning,’ Barkley told the podcast.

‘He says “What you doing?”, I said “Nothing, sitting here sulking ’cause we lost last night.” He said, “I’ll pick you up in four hours… I’m coming to get you, we’re going to play some golf, the season’s over, you need to get away.”

‘In four hours he picked me up at the private airport right by my house in his private jet.’

The pair also shared a love for gambling, sometimes combining golf and betting simultaneously. 

‘We’d be playing golf with certain people, and we’d be playing a couple hundred dollars a hole,’ Barkley told Dan Patrick in 2017. ‘And he’d be playing some guy for, like, a $100,000.’

‘He’s like, “Charles, pick that up,” [and] I’m like, “this putt is for $200.”

‘[Jordan said] “Pick that up, Charles, get out of my way. You’re in my line.”

‘I’d say, “well, how much is that putt for?” He’d say, “$300,000.” I’d say, “let me get out of your line.'”

The two basketball legends often played golf together during their years of close friendship

Jordan and Barkley were also teammates in multiple All-Star games for the Eastern Conference


Barkley and Jordan both enjoyed illustrious careers in the Association, though most notably Sir Charles did not win an NBA Championship. Of course, that vastly differs to Jordan’s six titles.

Ironically, it was Jordan standing in the way of Barkley and a ring in the 1992-93 NBA Finals. Chicago won in six games – making it The Round Mound’s first and only Finals appearance.  

The Finals matchup was given extra meaning for Jordan after Barkley won the MVP award for that season. 

‘I was a little bit upset that I didn’t get the MVP that year, and they gave it to Charles Barkley,” Jordan said in The Last Dance. 

‘But with that said, “ok, fine. You can have that. I’m gonna get [the championship].”‘

Barkley and Jordan both played on The Dream Team, were part of the NBA 50th and 75th anniversary teams and were double-digit All-Stars.

Jordan won one of his six titles against Barkley in ’93, his others came in 1991, ’92, ’96-98.

Barkley retired in 2000, while Jordan retired three times. Though, his final season was in 2003, during his brief stint with the Washington Wizards. 

Jordan and Barkley went head-to-head in the 1993 NBA Finals – which CHI won in six games 

Barkley retired from the Association in 2000 with Houston, Jordan retired in ’03 with the Wiz

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