Can time really heal all wounds? Charles Barkley sure hopes so.
While appearing on ESPN radio in Chicago, the Hall of Famer recalled how his longtime friendship with Michael Jordan was severed more than eight years ago after Barkley made blunt remarks about Jordan when he first started as an executive of the then-Charlotte Bobcats.
“The thing that bothered me the most about that whole thing, I don’t think that I said anything that bad,” Barkley said. “I’m pretty sure I said, ‘As much as I love Michael, until he stops hiring them kiss-a–es, and his best friends, he’s never going to be successful as a general manager.’ And I remember pretty much verbatim I said that.”
Barkley said he was surprised by Jordan’s reaction to his remarks, believing that his honesty was what Jordan valued most about their friendship.
“Listen, if you’re famous, and Michael at one point was the most famous person in the world, everybody around you is either on the payroll or letting you buy drinks and dinner and flying around on your private jet. Very few of your friends are going to be honest with you,” he said.
“But I thought that was one of the reasons we were great friends. Like, ‘I can ask Charles anything and I know he’s going to give me a straight answer.’ But 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.”
Barkley is saddened by the rift, telling ESPN that while he respects Jordan as the “greatest basketball player ever,” there’s “nothing I can do about it.”
“The guy was like a brother to me for, shoot, 20-something years,” he said. “At least 20-something years. And I do, I feel sadness.”