Barkley rarely guarded Jordan since he wasn’t quick enough to stay in front of the Chicago Bulls superstar. However, he never backed down from the challenge of trying to guard him, and that’s one of the things Jordan respected about the Round Mound of Rebound.
During a playoff series between the Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers, Jordan had his way on offense, and Barkley was getting tired of watching his friend torch his teammates. Chuck got switched onto His Airness on a pick-and-roll play, and the Bulls legend was forced to pass the ball because he was laughing too hard.
Michael Jordan went 3-0 against Charles Barkley in the playoffs
Jordan and Barkley met in the 1990, 1991, and 1993 playoffs. The first two meetings came in the second round of the Eastern Conference postseason, while the final one occurred in the NBA Finals during Barkley’s first season with the Phoenix Suns.
The Bulls defeated the Sixers in the 1990 Eastern Conference Semifinals in five games. Jordan averaged 43.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 7.4 assists. Meanwhile, Barkley put up 23.8 points, 17.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game.
Chicago and Philadelphia faced each other in the second round again the following postseason. The Bulls won the series in five games once again, with Jordan averaging 33.4 points, 8.0 boards, and 7.8 assists and Barkley putting up 25.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game. Jordan won his first of six titles in 1991, leading the Bulls to the championship over Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the summer of 1992, the Sixers traded Barkley to the Suns for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang, and Tim Perry. The All-Star power forward had an incredible first season in Phoenix. He won the MVP Award and led the team to the best record in the NBA.
The Suns and Bulls met in the 1993 NBA Finals. In episode 6 of the Last Dance docuseries, Jordan said he was upset Barkley won the 1992-93 MVP over him. He used that as motivation to beat his pal for the third time in the playoffs and win his third consecutive championship and Finals MVP. Jordan averaged 41.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists against the Suns in the ’93 Finals. He enjoyed playing against Barkley and prevented his friend from winning a title.
Whenever Jordan and Barkley’s teams played each other, the two rarely matched up since they played different positions. However, during one of the Bulls-Sixers playoff games, Barkley took the challenge of guarding Jordan and made the Bulls icon laugh.
Michael Jordan talks about Charles Barkley’s defense
During an interview with the late great John Thompson, Jordan talked about the time he passed the ball while being guarded by Barkley because he was laughing too hard. The play is one he will never forget.
“We got into a switch, and Charles jumps out and guards me,” Jordan said. “I never known Charles as a defensive stopper. So the first thing he does he breaks down in this defensive position with his hands up. Everything looks technically right, and I just laughed, and I had to pass it. But that’s the type of guy he was. He would take on a challenge even though he was not up to the challenge. He didn’t care.”
This was Jordan’s way of complimenting and trolling Barkley at the same time. The five-time MVP always found a way to talk trash, and he was really good at it.
Both guys are in the Hall of Fame
Both Jordan and Barkley are in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. MJ was inducted in 2009, while Chuck made it in 2006.
With the Bulls and Washington Wizards, Jordan averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists. Meanwhile, Barkley put up 22.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game with the Sixers, Suns, and Houston Rockets.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.