Charles Barkley Loved Michael Jordan but Feuded With MJ’s Best Friend For Nearly 3 Decades: ‘It’s That Steroid Thing’

Charles Barkley and Charles Oakley had a mutual friend in Michael Jordan. But when it came to the dynamic between the two Charles,’ animosity reigned supreme. It still does.

Chuck and Oak developed quite the rivalry through the years, one that extends to the present day. The feud is defined by physical play on the floor and petty insults in the press and on social media.

Charles Barkley and Charles Oakley each had their own relationships with Michael Jordan

Former New York Knicks forward Charles Oakley defends NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley
Charles Oakley (L) keeps close tabs on Charles Barkley | Clarence Sheppard/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Whereas Charles Barkley always served as Michael Jordan’s opponent during his NBA career, Charles Oakley initially filled the role of MJ’s big brother with the Chicago Bulls.

Oakley played with Jordan for three seasons, bringing an enforcer mindset to the floor and sticking up for His Airness whenever opponents — ahem, the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons — knocked him to the ground. Oak became Jordan’s watchful protector, and the two remained friends even when the Bulls traded Oakley to the rival New York Knicks.

The nature of Barkley’s relationship with Jordan proved different. Chuck relished the chance to play against MJ, but his kindred spirit and competitiveness helped formulate a bond between the two. Jordan and the Round Mound of Rebound have fallen out in recent years, though Barkley laments how the relationship devolved.

At one point, however, Chuck found common ground with Jordan. He seldom looked to establish such friendly feelings with Oakley, instead choosing physicality and trash-talking ventures.

Barkley and Oakley scuffled on multiple occasions during their playing careers

The similarities between Charles Barkley and Charles Oakley are endless, yet those shared qualities only made the ferocity of their rivalry all the more compelling over time.

Initially, the dynamic between Chuck and Oak mainly consisted of trash talk and the occasional on-court incident. Oakley went so far as to say the two were friends even after a grueling 1989 playoff series between the Sixers and Knicks. Barkley also once said he could envision himself playing for the Knicks before being traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Phoenix Suns in 1992.

But things took a turn for the worse when Barkley slapped Oakley during a game in February 1994. Although Chuck brushed the incident aside, Oak emphasized he would not stand for such acts. He made it his mission to antagonize Barkley from then on out. The two forwards brawled during a preseason game in 1996 after Oak threw Chuck to the ground, which in turn resulted in Barkley tormenting Oakley at every turn.

The beef gave way to Barkley’s favorite trope, which entailed saying (h/t the Associated Press) Oakley took steroids.

“It’s that steroid thing. [Oakley] goes crazy at times”

–Charles Barkley (1997)

Barkley’s career came to a close at the turn of the millennium, but he still trash-talked Oakley even as a Houston Rockets reserve. He also commented on a trade sending Oak to the Toronto Raptors, prompting Oak to allegedly slap Chuck in the face at a player’s association meeting in 1999.

One might have wondered whether the dislike between the two men would peter out in retirement. However, that is far from being the case.

The harsh feelings remain to this day

Chuck and Oak still cannot get on the same page.

Oakley repeatedly used his social media platforms to criticize Barkley and insult the Round Mound of Rebound‘s basketball intelligence through the years. Per Sporting News, Chuck said in 2017 that he did not understand why Oak had it out for him but added he laughed at Oak’s ill will.

Interestingly, the rivalry between Barkley and Oakley could have another chapter, literally. Oakley is preparing to release a memoir in February 2022, which will undoubtedly include stories about his encounters with Barkley.

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