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Charles Barkley opens about estrangement from Michael Jordan

Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan were close friends for years, but the two Hall of Famers no longer associate much with one another. While Barkley insists he still holds Jordan in high regard, the outspoken NBA on TNT panelist recently explained the reasons why the two had a falling out in the first place.

In essence, Barkley suspects that Jordan did not take kindly to how he criticized the Charlotte Hornets owner’s moves in his role as an NBA analyst. That said, Barkley, who routinely ruffles feathers with his no-hold-barred opinions, nevertheless argued, “I’ve got to do my job.”

With the impending premiere of the eagerly anticipated Jordan documentary “The Last Dance” on ESPN this weekend, Barkley’s soured relationship with the icon was unsurprisingly a topic of conversation during his recent appearance on the “Hoops, Adjacent” podcast.

“Don’t you have friends who you’re not sure how they’re gonna react when you’re honest with them,” Barkley said, as shared by David Aldridge of The Athletic.. “Especially somebody on his level. And like I say, hey, I love the dude. He’s the best I’ve ever seen. It’s unfortunate the way things went down. But I’m going to always try to do my job. And actually, my criticism was about the people around him. … I thought the people he hired around him were too many yes men. That was actually my statement, to be honest. I thought the people around him, they wanted the private jet. They wanted the steak dinner. They were always going to be yes men.”

While fierce rivals on the NBA court, Barkley and Jordan really forged a bond while teammates on the Dream Team at the 1992 Summer Olympics. Barkley even appeared in the iconic Jordan-starring film, “Space Jam.” Things, however, apparently went south after Barkley transitioned to becoming a member of the media.

Despite their broken friendship, Barkley lamented over how he misses his old pal. He also touted MJ as the “greatest basketball player ever” and wishes the legend “nothing but the best.”

In the end, Barkley wishes things hadn’t worked out in the way they did, calling the situation between himself and Jordan “unfortunate.”