The basketball legend was a guest on Tom Brady’s Let’s Go podcast this week, where he was asked if he ever had any negative “ramifications” for keeping it real and sharing his truth in interviews over the years — or any regrets for comments he’s made.
“I think probably, me and Michael [Jordan] were best friends, that’s probably the most prominent thing. Michael Jordan, losing his friendship was probably the most prominent thing that’s happened to me,” he shared.
“But I was being honest about what I thought. I said, ‘Listen, the toughest thing about Michael, he’s got to put better people around him,'” Barkley continued, reflecting on the source of their feud. “Because the toughest thing, when you’re famous, they’re on your private jet, you’re buying all the drinks, you’re buying all the dinners. Very few people are gonna be honest with you. And I try to surround myself with people like, ‘Hey, if I’m screwing up, please tell me.'”
“And Michael got offended about something I said about him. And we haven’t spoken in probably almost 10 years,” he added. “And he was my best friend at the time. And I love the dude like a brother and we’re both stubborn and we haven’t talked.”
The offending comments appear to have been made to ESPN back in 2012, where he told The Waddle & Silvy Show about Jordan, “I think the biggest problem has been I don’t know if he has hired enough people around him who he will listen to.”
“One thing about being famous is the people around you, you pay all their bills so they very rarely disagree with you because they want you to pick up the check,” he said at the time. “They want to fly around on your private jet so they never disagree with you. I don’t think Michael has hired enough people around him who will disagree.”
Barkley also revealed that Kobe Bryant once got really mad at him after Barkley said he was disappointed in Bryant’s gameplay in a post-game interview.
“One night Kobe Bryant texted me 40 times calling me every name in the book,” revealed Barkley. “He starts texting me right after the game. He texted me about 40 times. This is like 5:00 in the morning. I was like dude, pick up the phone and call me.”
He added that they, thankfully, mended fences before Kobe’s death.
“I’ve never taken a cheap shot at a guy because I didn’t like him,” he added, defending his comments. “If you played bad, I can’t get on the TV and tell people you played good! I wish I could say positive thing about everybody all the time. But they just saw the game, I gotta tell the truth.”