Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley entered the NBA together in 1984, as part of the legendary 1984 NBA Draft class that also included Hakeem Olajuwon. Both players went on to establish themselves as superstars in the NBA.
Barkley and Jordan became friends during their time in the NBA and even played in the NBA Finals against each other in 1993. But Barkley still remembers his first time meeting Michael Jordan.
During 'The Great Debate' on TNT, Charles Barkley shared his first interaction with Michael Jordan. Both players were invited to Indiana to participate in the Team USA Olympic trials.
After Barkley returned to college, the coach at the trials called him and told him that he was the second-best player there. When his college coach said that he was the best, Barkley noted that he wasn't because he met a kid from North Carolina who was not like anyone he had ever seen.
“The first time I met Michael was at the Olympic trials. They invited the top 120 players in the United States and we go to Indiana. We start at 120, and go to 100, 80, 60, 40, and 20. I remember going to the airport, me, John Stockton, Karl Malone, and Terry Porter. I get back to college. John Thompson calls my coach and says ‘hey Charles, I want you to know, I just thought you were the second-best player here’. So I said ‘coach I really appreciate you taking time, it meant a lot to me’. So he hangs up the phone and my coach says, ‘I thought you were the best player’. I said ‘Well, I’m not. Coach I just saw something I’ve never seen in my life before. There’s this dude at North Carolina. He’s a little taller than me, he can outrun everybody, he can out-jump everybody. I’ve never seen anything like it’. He says ‘Oh Michael Jordan? I’m gonna remember that name’.”
During the episode, Shaquille O'Neal was also featured as a guest, and talked about his time with Kobe Bryant, noting that they were the most dominant duo in NBA history.
Michael Jordan turned out to be the greatest player of all time. He found incredible success in the NBA and went on to revolutionize the game in a way we have yet to see since. Jordan was a mercurial talent who completely redefined the league, and brought about its most lucrative period of expansion in history.
Barkley even named Michael Jordan on his Mount Rushmore of NBA players. Michael Jordan inspired millions of basketball players in the world, many of whom are in the NBA today and have gone on to become some of the best basketball players in the world.