‘He went ballistic’: Charles Barkley opens up about falling out with NBA legend

Former NBA player Charles Barkley opened up about the last conversation he had with his once best friend and fellow Hall of Famer Michael Jordan that ended with his being told, “motherf*cker, f*ck you!”

The 11-time NBA All-Star and sports commentator recently sat down with former players Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes for the Showtime program “All the Smoke” where he discussed at length his time in the league and his thoughts on basketball today. At one point, Barnes wanted to know about the more than decade-long rift between Barkley and Jordan, and the guest opened up about his side of the story.

“You and MJ were really close and haven’t spoke in some time. Is there light at the end of the tunnel with that? Do you feel like you guys can mend that?” Barnes asked.

“That would be on his end, Matt,” Barkley began. “He was my best friend at the time, and I love the guy and I miss the guy, but you know I gotta do my job.”

The one-time NBA MVP then recounted comments that he had made in a 2012 interview with “NBA on TNT” where he criticized Jordan’s decision-making as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, then the Bobcats, and explained, “I said, ‘I don’t know if he’s ever going to be successful because of the people around him. I think he hires too many of his friends.’ ‘Cause your friends don’t ever tell you ‘no,’ the hardest thing about being famous is ’cause you’re paying all the bills, they on your private jet, they’re not going to tell you when you’re doing something wrong.”

“He was struggling as a general manager or running the team, and I said, ‘I don’t know if he’s ever going to be successful ’cause the people around him are never gonna tell him no,'” Barkley reiterated.

“He went ballistic,” the former player continued. “And he called me, and that’s the last thing I heard was ‘motherf*cker, f*ck you! You supposed to be my boy.’ …And I said, ‘Man, I gotta do my job.’ And we haven’t spoken since that night, and that was probably close to ten years ago.”

Barkley’s matter-of-fact rundown of the exchange with Jordan was tame compared to other blunt statements he has made, such as in May 2022 when he remarked on an altercation Dallas Mavericks point guard Chris Paul had with a fan, “Hey we could put an end to all this stuff. So of the stuff these fans say…Let’s take it right down to center court for five minutes, I’ve always said that.”

“Some of the crap they said to you, hey, just. give me five minutes at center court with them and say ‘You ain’t gonna press no charges, ain’t nobody gonna be sued civilly. Say what you just said to me right to my face and for these five minutes I’m gonna beat your a** and beat the hell out of you,” he went on.

Barkley himself had confessed to throwing a fan through a plate glass window at a bar in 1997 after he had allegedly had a cup of ice and a glass thrown in his direction. “What he did was inappropriate,” the player said at the time. “I’m going to defend myself. Let there be no debate. If you bother me, I’m going to whip your a**. The guy threw ice in my face, and I slammed his a** into the window. I’m not denying that. I defended myself. He got what he deserved.”


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Kevin Haggerty


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