During an interview with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, the 59-year-old TNT analyst said his fallout with the Chicago Bulls icon is “a really unfortunate situation for” the both of them, stemming from a comment Barkley made about Jordan’s ownership of the Charlotte Bobcats, now the Hornets.
Barkley, who has enjoyed a successful career as an NBA analyst and commentator since he retired from the league, told Rooks that “first and foremost,” his priority remains on doing his job honestly, despite his friendships around the league.
“I can’t criticize other coaches and general managers and give him a pass because he’s my best friend,” said Barkley. “I just can’t do that.”
Jordan, 59, became a part owner of Charlotte’s NBA team, which are now the Hornets, in 2010. Since Jordan became involved with the team, the Hornets have put up an average record, with few postseason triumphs.
Barkley said that it was a comment about Jordan’s leadership with the Charlotte organization that his former friend took issue with. “What I said was, ‘Michael’s got to surround himself with better people,’ ” Barkley explained.
Barkley was concerned that Jordan, who he calls “the biggest star” he’s “ever been around,” was running the team without “a good enough supporting cast around him in the front office to be successful,” he told Rooks.
“And I said, ‘I worry about him being successful.’ Because when you’re a star…Everybody around you is going to tell you what you want to hear,” Barkley explained.
Barkley continued: “I said that, and I had no problem saying it, because it was the truth. And he took offense. And he called me, and it wasn’t a pleasant conversation, and we haven’t spoke since then.”
Both former NBA stars are “stubborn” in their ways, Barkley admitted, adding that he guesses he and Jordan have had the opportunity to speak just a handful of times over the years.
Barkley told Bleacher Report that he estimates five times he and Jordan have “been in the same room” since their falling out. “He’s stubborn, I’m stubborn, and that’s it.”
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Stubbornness aside, Barkley told Rooks he would be open to repairing his friendship with Jordan. However, he stands by his original critique of the NBA legend’s Charlotte team.
“I probably would say, ‘What I said, I believed. I’m sorry you took offense to it. And let’s get past this bulls–t and get back to playing golf and having fun,” Barkley said.