Before Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith started making fun of Charles Barkley for never winning a championship, Michael Jordan was the man for the job. The Chicago Bulls legend, who won six titles during his legendary career, always took joy in teasing Barkley back in the day since they were close friends.
Jordan was such a friendly bully toward Barkley that he once embarrassed the Round Mound of Rebound in front of more than 300 basketball fanatics. What made the moment even funnier was that Barkley was helping Jordan.
Michael Jordan teased Charles Barkley at his Senior Flight School
During Jordan’s Senior Flight School in the summer of 1999, Barkley was one of the NBA players who assisted the campers. Even though he was likely grateful that his friend took time out of his busy schedule to participate in his camp, Jordan wasn’t afraid to take a few minutes to skewer Barkley playfully.
Before the campers competed for the championship, the ring ceremony for the previous year’s champion took place. Jordan used that opportunity to troll Barkley in front of his camp, telling Chuck while holding one of the rings, “This will be the only ring you’ll ever win.” The hysterical moment was documented by ESPN‘s Gene Wojciechowski, who participated in the camp.
As he routinely does with O’Neal and Smith on the set of Inside the NBA, Barkley took the title jokes in stride and didn’t get angry about getting poked fun at. However, it has to hurt him inside knowing that he’s one of the greatest players in NBA history never to win a ring.
Michael Jordan prevented Charles Barkley from winning a title in 1993
Barkley’s Phoenix Suns took on Jordan’s Bulls in the 1993 NBA Finals. The Suns not only had the best record in the league during the 1992-93 season, but Barkley also won the MVP Award by averaging 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists.
In Episode 6 of the Last Dance docuseries, Jordan admitted he was upset Barkley won MVP over him. He used it as motivation and had an incredible Finals, averaging 41.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists in the six-game series.
The Bulls won Games 1 and 2 in Phoenix, but the Suns reclaimed home-court advantage by winning Games 3 and 5 in Chicago. Barkley and Co. had a two-point lead with 10.3 seconds left in regulation in Game 6. They needed one stop against Jordan and Co. to force a Game 7.
Unfortunately for the Suns, an unlikely hero for the Bulls stepped up to hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history.
John Paxson hit game-winning 3-pointer
Everyone expected Jordan to take the game-tying shot. However, His Airness passed the ball to Scottie Pippen, who then drove toward the basket and found Horace Grant near the rim. Grant could have forced up a tough shot, but he found a wide-open John Paxson at the 3-point line instead, and the rest is history.
Paxson swished the open 3-pointer to give the Bulls a 99-98 lead with under 4.0 seconds left. The Suns had a chance to win the game on their next possession, but Kevin Johnson’s shot was knocked away by Grant, securing Chicago’s first three-peat.
Barkley never made it back to the NBA Finals. He averaged 27.3 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists against the Bulls but couldn’t dethrone Jordan.
Despite being in the Hall of Fame, Barkley will presumably always be haunted by never winning a title since Jordan won six and his partners at TNT — O’Neal and Smith — won six combined.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.