Watching Michael Jordan’s The Last Dance Reminded Charles Barkley Of A ‘Bad Memory’

Charles Barkley on Inside the NBA
(Image credit: TNT)

ESPN’s The Last Dance seemingly took the sports world by storm when it premiered back in the spring of 2020. Many sports fans were quickly drawn into the drama of the Emmy-winning docuseries, which centered on the final championship run of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Amid and after its 10-episode run, the show drew reactions from a variety of former players. (Some weren’t pleased.) Charles Barkley was one of the NBA vets to watch the doc, while also being featured in it as an interviewee. Now, the hall of famer has opened up about his experience watching the series and how it brought up a “bad memory.”

Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, who are relatively friendly in their daily lives, met up quite a few times on the basketball court. The interconference matchups between Jordan’s Bulls and Barkley’s Suns were particularly thrilling to watch during the ‘90s. One of their most memorable meetings, of course, occurred when the two teams met in the 1993 NBA Finals. Today, the championship series is a cool piece of history for basketball aficionados, yet it’s also a memory that Sir Charles wasn’t too fond of reliving through The Last Dance:

It was always great going down memory lane, until I think I got to like Episode 5 when they beat us for the championship. I was like, “Oh shit that’s a bad memory.” But it made me realize how much Michael went through because a lot of these guys today don’t wanna compete, they all get together and that’s annoying.

The ‘93 championship series, which was actually highlighted in Episode 6, was hard-fought, with Charles Barkley and his Suns teammates doing their best to overcome the reigning champions. The Bulls, however, ultimately claimed victory in six games, marking their third consecutive championship win. The loss clearly still stings for Barkley but, during his appearance on Renee Paquette’s The Sessions podcast, he further explained how the show gave him a better appreciation for his colleague and friend:

To see what Michael went through to get through the Pistons, and just know, “We gotta get better, we gotta get better, we gotta get better.” I wish a lot of these young kids could learn that instead of saying, ‘Hey, you know what, I need to go and join my friends and we can build these super teams.’

The former player’s sentiments run counter to some of his basketball contemporaries, who were less than thrilled with the way The Last Dance portrayed them. Former Chicago Bull Scottie Pippen, in particular, has not minced words, as he’s called out Michael Jordan for using the docuseries to “glorify” himself. Eventually, through his recently released memoir, Pippen would even say that his old on-court partner “ruined” the game of basketball

The Round Mound of Rebound has since clapped back at his fellow Dream Teamer for his comments. The Inside the NBA analyst accused Scottie PIppen of “big-game hunting” in order to sell his new book. The sports pundit later admitted that he’d yet to read Pippen’s memoir in its entirety but took issue with the format in which the veteran Bull chose to air his grievances. 

Charles Barkley is known for his blunt opinions and polarizing basketball takes, so it’s actually pretty refreshing to hear his feelings on The Last Dance. Nostalgia is indeed a powerful thing and, in some cases, it can overcome just about anything, even a bad memory or two. 

If you’ve yet to check out The Last Dance, you can stream the heavily-debated doc with the use of a Netflix subscription.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.