Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan were superstars at the same time in the 1990s and were once friends off the court, but now the two are no longer on speaking terms thanks to Barkley’s famous ability to tell it like it is.
Barkley said a rift grew between him and Jordan after he criticized Jordan’s decisions as owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.
“I think that Michael was upset by some of the things I said about the Bobcats,” Barkley told Yahoo Sports’ Graham Bensinger. “Which, No.1, they were true. I can’t — you know, I told you earlier; I’m going to be honest, and I’m going to be fair. And the Bobcats — first of all, he’s doing a much better job. But a couple years ago — I want say three years ago — when they were vying for the worst record in NBA history, Michael had not done a good job. He took it personally.”
Charles Barkley added that he would feel “dishonest” if he didn’t speak his mind.
“I think that everybody got — I wish it would be that simple, to be honest with you,” Barkley said. “I always love him like a brother, but I’m going do my job, first and foremost. Because I can’t get on TV and be dishonest with people. They know when you’re being dishonest and disingenuous. I’m going do my job, plain and simple.”
Speaking freely is part of Charles Barkley’s job description. As a member of the commentary team on the NBA on TNT, he has gained a reputation for his frank and sometimes biting criticism of players and teams.
That frankness has gotten Charles Barkley in trouble in the past; however, there have been several controversies about his comments. But Barkley has also taken the lead on some hot-button issues, including the recent controversy surrounding former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
“This is the first test of Adam Silver. He’s got to suspend him right now,” Barkley said. “You can’t have this guy making statements like that. [Silver] has to suspend him and fine him immediately. He has to be suspended. … When you’re in a position of power, and you can take jobs and economic opportunities from people, that’s what crosses the line. We can’t have an NBA owner discriminating against a league — we’re a black league.”
As for the rift with Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley said the friendship can still be repaired.