Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan retired in 1993 after winning his third championship against Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns. It was such a powerful story that it was voted as the AP Sports Story of the Year.
Barkley, who won the 1992-93 MVP, was upset that he lost the Finals to Jordan and the Bulls. However, he may have been even sadder about MJ leaving the NBA.
Charles Barkley on Michael Jordan retiring: ‘It’s just a sad thing’
Barkley and Jordan were close friends during their playing days, which is why the former was down when the latter retired in 1993.
“It’s just a sad thing,” Barkley said, via Chicago sports historian Jack M Silverstein. “It’s definitely a shock. Michael Jordan is the only person in the entire world that I’ve ever met who is as competitive as I am. That’s why I’ll miss playing against him.”
Barkley is one of the few legends who had a winning record against Jordan. Chuck was 20-19 versus Superman in the regular season. However, he was never able to beat the Bulls icon when it mattered most.
Charles Barkley never beat Michael Jordan in the playoffs
Barkley faced Jordan three times in the playoffs and lost each series. When he was on the Philadelphia 76ers, the Round Mound of Rebound lost to Black Jesus in the 1990 Eastern Conference semifinals and the 1991 Eastern Conference semifinals.
In the 1993 playoffs, Jordan’s Bulls beat Barkley’s Suns in the Finals in six games. His Airness averaged 41.0 points in the series, while Sir Charles put up 27.3 points and 13.0 rebounds per game. Barkley, undoubtedly one of the best players in NBA history, told Sam Amick of The Athletic in July 2021 that he failed to prepare his team for Game 1.
“The other games (after Game 1) were really good games, but I thought the one bad game we had was Game One,” Barkley said. “I thought we were nervous, and I think that was my fault for not having us ready to play. I had been in big moments before, but nobody else on our team had been in big moments. I just felt that I should’ve had us better prepared, or I should’ve been more aggressive, to be honest with you.”
Barkley never got back to the Finals after losing in 1993. Meanwhile, Jordan won six championships with the Bulls and never lost in the Finals.
Barkley may not have won an NBA championship, but he did capture two gold medals, with the first one coming alongside Jordan.
Chuck led the Dream Team in scoring
Jordan may have been the face of the Dream Team since he was the best player in the world, but Barkley led Team USA in scoring in 1992. He averaged 18.0 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 71.1% from the field. For his part, Jordan put up 14.9 points per game.
Barkley won his second gold medal in 1996. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and finished his career with averages of 22.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists.
Meanwhile, Jordan joined Barkley in the Hall of Fame in 2009. He averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists during his career and is the NBA’s all-time leader in points per game and player efficiency rating.