Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley Were Friends for More Than 20 Years — What Happened?

What is the beef between Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley? The basketball icons were friends for more than 20 years before cutting ties.

Gabrielle Bernardini - Author

May 7 2020, Updated 9:13 a.m. ET

barkley jordan beef
Source: Getty

The ESPN docuseries The Last Dance, gives viewers a close look at the 1998 Chicago Bulls basketball team. The 10-part series has behind the scenes clips, interviews, and more examining the players and relationships that made up the championship team, specifically the legendary Michael Jordan.

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The basketball icon is known for his competitive nature, but at times, it seems the Hall of Famer was unapologetic in his seemingly bloodthirsty behavior. 

barkley jordan beef
Source: Getty
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And, it seems his competitive nature cost him a few friendships down the road, in particular with fellow basketball star Charles Barkley. "The guy was like a brother to me for, shoot, 20-something years," Charles said in a new interview on May 5 on ESPN radio's Waddle and Silvy show. "At least 20-something years." 

So, what happened between the two and what caused their beef?

Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley's beef explained:

In 1993, the Phoenix Suns player was named MVP of the NBA, which did not sit well with Michael. Going into the NBA Finals that year, Michael came to play, and he lit the other team up. “I played as well as I could play,” Charles said in the documentary. “And Michael just outplayed me.” 

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Source: Netflix

Though they were on opposing teams, Charles still had nothing but respect for Michael and his elevation of the game. "There's no person in my life I ever met that I wanted to beat more in basketball," he said. "Because when you lose to him, you've got to hear about it every day for the rest of your life."

He added: "That's what made him the GOAT. He takes everything personally."

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But, while they may have been rivals on the court, they were pretty close friends. The two reportedly formed a friendship during the 1984 Olympic trials and even played together on the 1992 "Dream Team."

According to the former basketball star, his longtime friendship with Michael ended in 2012 after the current sports analyst criticized the icon as the owner of the Charlotte Hornets.

The basketball team has only been in the postseason twice since Michael took over in 2010. 

So, what did Charles Barkley say about Michael Jordan?

"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,'" he recalled on the ESPN radio show. "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." 

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barkley jordan beef
Source: Getty

Though the two may no longer be friends, Charles still has nothing but kind words to say about Michael. "I do, I feel sadness," he stated about their severed friendship. "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." 

So, will the two ever mend their friendship? According to Charles, Michael will have to be the one to reach out first, saying, "He's got my number. He can call me."

Catch new episodes of The Last Dance on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN or stream now on Netflix. 

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