Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley were two of the best players in the NBA during their careers, and had created a friendship during the course of their face-offs.
According to Barkley, he and Jordan’s friendship has become strained because of criticisms Barkley made about Jordan’s ownership of the Charlotte (then-Bobcats) Hornets.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, Barkley said he and Jordan haven’t mended their relationship, but he believes his original criticisms helped Jordan build the Hornets into a playoff team:
“We’re not friendly, but I still love him. He’s doing a good job now… I said Michael had to get rid of the people around him. You can’t have your friends working for you; you’ve got to surround yourself with good basketball people. He had not done that. I love what he did with Al Jefferson. I love him going out and getting Lance [Stephenson]. I love the kid Noah Vonleh from Indiana. He’s done a good job, but he had not done a good job up until then. It’s obviously put a strain on our relationship and we’re not together anymore.”
When asked if Jordan would “pick up the phone” to make amends, Barkley laughed:
“No (laughs). And it’s not in my personality either. (laughs). I’m not going to call up and apologise for saying what I said. They were setting the record for the worst team in NBA history and I said Michael just has to do a better job. He had to get rid of the flunkies around him and hire real basketball people. He does that now. They have been doing a great job since he got rid of his flunkies and hired basketball people. But he [Michael] can’t hear the good stuff.”
Barkley’s criticisms weren’t wrong. The Bobcats had set the NBA record for losses in a season, they had wasted high draft picks on busts, made signings for win-now veterans that didn’t work out, and had only made the playoffs once, in what resulted as a four-game sweep.
Barkley mentions when he leaves TNT’s “Inside the NBA” he would love a shot at managing a team. He’s never had front-office experience, but he appears to have a good grip on what he should and shouldn’t do.
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