The 1993 NBA Finals featured two friends going against each other. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls faced Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns on the NBA’s biggest stage, and basketball fans worldwide were excited to see the two stars go at it.
Barkley and the Suns had home-court advantage in the series after finishing the 1992-93 season with the best record in the NBA. The Round Mound of Rebound also won the regular-season MVP Award after averaging 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists in 76 games.
Meanwhile, Jordan and the Bulls were looking to win their third straight championship. They needed six games to defeat the New York Knicks in the ’93 Eastern Conference Finals, so Phil Jackson‘s group was prepared to battle Paul Westphal’s squad.
Since Jordan and Barkley were close friends, they talked a lot during the Finals and went out to dinner a few times. During their time together, MJ and Chuck would talk about the series, and the Suns star would annoy the Bulls icon by saying the same quote repeatedly.
Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley were teammates in the summer of 1992
Jordan and Barkley were teammates on the 1992 USA Dream Team. The Americans won the gold medal at the ’92 Olympics in Barcelona, defeating Toni Kukoc and Croatia in the gold-medal game.
Barkley led the Dream Team in scoring. He averaged 18.0 points and shot 71.1% from the field. Meanwhile, Jordan was second on the team in scoring. He put up 14.9 points per game and was the only player to start all eight Olympic contests. Head coach Chuck Daly never had to call a timeout, and the Dream Team’s closest outing was its 32-point victory over Croatia for the gold medal.
Jordan and Barkley were already friends before the Dream Team experience. However, they became even closer in Barcelona since they spent time with each other every day and were the two leading scorers on the team.
That’s why the two superstars were thrilled to face each other in the ’93 Finals, especially Jordan, who was upset Barkley won the 1992-93 MVP over him.
Michael Jordan averaged 41.0 points against Charles Barkley and the Suns in the ’93 Finals
Jordan was unstoppable in the ’93 Finals. He averaged 41.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists while shooting 50.8% from the field, 40.0% from beyond the arc, and 69.4% from the free-throw line. His Airness scored 55 points in Game 4 and shot over 50.0% in every contest except the Bulls’ Game 3 loss.
During his only appearance in the Finals, Barkley averaged 27.3 points, 13.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.2 steals. He led the Suns to wins in Games 3 and 5 in Chicago to prevent Jordan and Co. from winning the championship at home.
Throughout the Finals, Barkley kept telling the press and Jordan that the Suns were destined to win the championship and that God was on their side. After Phoenix stunned the Bulls in Game 5 to send the series back to their home floor, Jordan spoke about how he truly felt about Barkley’s line of thought.
MJ heard Chuck’s “crap” all series long
After the Bulls lost Game 5, a reporter asked Jordan what his reaction was to Barkley saying the Suns are a team of destiny. In classic GOAT fashion, the NBA legend spoke honestly about his friend’s claim.
“He’s been telling me that crap ever since he’s been here,” Jordan said. “I mean, he’s got a different destiny than what we see it. We’re destined to win as much as he’s destined to win, and right now, we’re one game up. I don’t think any player is gonna be in a position where we are right now and think they’re gonna lose. Charles is a very positive thinker, and so are we. I understand his positive thinking, but we’re here to say that his destiny is to have a long summer thinking about what he should have or would have done.”
Jordan and the Bulls went to Phoenix in Game 6 and won on a John Paxson game-winning 3-pointer to capture their third straight title. MJ won his third Finals MVP and sent Barkley home dejected. He then shocked the sports world a few months later by retiring from the NBA following the tragic murder of his father.
MJ returned to the NBA in 1995 and won three more championships, three more Finals MVPs, and two more regular-season MVPs. Meanwhile, Barkley is one of the greatest players in NBA history to have never won a title.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.