Throughout his Hall of Fame career, Michael Jordan tormented opposing players and coaches on a nightly basis. NBA legend Charles Barkley was one of the players on the wrong end of Jordan’s career, as the 1992-93 MVP could never get past the Chicago Bulls icon when it mattered most.
Jordan’s Bulls faced Barkley’s Phoenix Suns squad in the 1993 NBA Finals. His Airness was so dominant in the series that Chuck’s coach was forced to yell at his players and implore them to double-team the Bulls superstar at every turn.
Charles Barkley’s coach: Michael Jordan is not beating us
Paul Westphal coached the 1992-93 Suns team. In Episode 6 of The Last Dance docuseries, the late great coach was seen yelling at his team. He was urging them to make someone other than Jordan beat them, which is obviously easier said than done.
“Michael is not beating us!” Westphal said. “Don’t let him catch. Double him. Make somebody else win the game.”
Jordan was unstoppable in the ’93 Finals. Despite Westphal’s passionate message to his team, the Suns had zero answers for MJ, who put up video game numbers and broke Barkley’s heart.
Michael Jordan averaged 41.0 points against Charles Barkley and the Suns
Jordan is the NBA’s all-time leader in points per game, and he showed why in the ’93 Finals. The 10-time scoring champion averaged 41.0 points against Barkley and Co. while shooting 50.8% from the field. His lowest-scoring game of the series was 31.
In Game 4 at the Chicago Stadium, Jordan erupted for 55 points. No one on the Suns could stop Jordan, whether it was Barkley, Danny Ainge, Dan Majerle, Richard Dumas, or Kevin Johnson. All Westphal could do was watch from the sidelines while Jordan destroyed his defensive gameplan brick by brick. It certainly must have been a queasy feeling for him.
The Bulls won the first two games of the series in Phoenix. However, the Suns responded by winning Games 3 and 5 in Chicago. Game 6 took place at the America West Arena, and Jordan made sure the Suns’ magical season ended there.
Bulls won Game 6 by one point
Behind 33 points from Jordan, the Bulls won Game 6 to capture their third straight title. John Paxson hit the game-winning 3-pointer with under 3.0 seconds left in regulation. The Suns had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Johnson’s shot was knocked away by Horace Grant.
Meanwhile, Barkley never got back to the Finals after losing to Jordan and the Bulls in ’93. He is one of the best players in NBA history to have never won a ring. The 11-time All-Star finished his career with averages of 22.1 points and 11.7 rebounds.
Jordan won six rings with the Bulls in the ’90s. He never lost in the Finals and won all six Finals MVPs. The five-time regular-season MVP tortured his opponents his entire career, and Westphal and Barkley may have won a title together in ’93 had Black Jesus not been on the other side.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.