Born just three days apart, basketball legends Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan were once best friends, but now they haven’t spoken to each other in years.
Barkley, who is famous for his bossy shots, told 60 Minutes correspondent Jon Wertheim that Jordan broke off the friendship over Barkley’s comments about the Charlotte Hornets. Jordan is the owner of the NBA team that was struggling to win games at the time.
“And from what I said, I don’t think he has enough people around that are going to tell him, ‘No,'” Barkley said. “And he was really offended, and we didn’t speak to each other.”
For Barkley, who makes a living sharing his unvarnished opinions as an analyst on TNT’s Inside the NBA, there’s no room for double standards.
“I’ll do my job,” he said. “Because I have zero credibility criticizing other people in the same boat and not criticizing my best friend.”
Jordan’s height doesn’t give him “the right to be an idiot,” Barkley continued.
If their relationship is ever to be repaired, Barkley said the ball is with Jordan.
“He has my number,” Barkley told Wertheim.
Jordan isn’t the only one who finds himself in Barkley’s crosshairs. For sixty nights a year, Barkley features everything and everyone from the Milwaukee Bucks on Inside the NBA Lebron James, and no topic is taboo. After Memphis Grizzlies star Yes Morant was suspended for showing a gun in an Instagram live video, Barkley took the opportunity to address gun violence.
Barkley’s penchant for sharing what interests him began when he was a young NBA player. Drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1984, it wasn’t long before the Alabama kid became as famous for his quoting ability as his furious rebounds.
His friends say it’s a trait he inherited from his grandmother, who helped raise Barkley alongside his mother.
“He has a mouth like Grandma,” agreed one of his friends during a visit to Barkley’s hometown of Leeds, Alabama.
One of Barkley’s most infamous moments, however, happened not over controversy, but on the court. While playing with the 76ers in New Jersey in 1991, he spat at a heckler and accidentally punched a young girl. He calls it the low point of his career.
“I was rightly suspended,” Barkley said. “I was sitting in my hotel room and I was like, ‘You’re the biggest loser in the world.'”
He described it as a turning point. Barkley said his game was fueled by anger at his father, who left the family when Barkley was a year old, and at Ms. Gomez, a Spanish teacher, who flunked him, preventing him from playing with the rest of his high school graduating class.
“I’m only going to play basketball because I’m great at it and I love playing,” Barkley said after the incident. “I’m getting all the dirt off my shoulders. Ms. Gomez, bye! Dad, bye!”
Not long after, Barkley was traded to the Phoenix Suns, where he was named MVP in 1993.
And months after that go into retirement in 2000, he embarked on a broadcasting career, delivering blunt, provocative commentary and earning more than ever as a player.
Barkley, 60, is focused on his own legacy. His daughter Christiana recently had a son, Henry. Barkley said he had never felt such joy. As a proud grandpa, he put out a video of Henry laughing to show the 60 Minutes team.
“This is by far the biggest thing that has ever happened to me in my life,” Barkley said.
The experience of spending time with his grandson lives up to the hype, and Barkley said his focus is on spending as much time with Henry as possible
“Then when he gets older, I want him to google me. I hope he does some research on me,” Barkley said. “I’ll be gone for a long time, but I want him to know that I’ve accomplished some things in my life.”
Charles Barkley: The 60 Minute Interview
The eBay stalking scandal: how a couple became the target of harassment | 60 minutes
How Advances in Prosthetic Technology Enable Feel and Control | 60 minutes