I thought I was a really good player, but this dude is the best I’ve ever seen.Charles Barkley, Coffe with Cal
Chuck being one of the best players in Bloomington, was pretty much a consensus, but according to Barkley himself, North Carolina’s Black Cat beat him to that title. He ended up outplaying every single one of 71 players (seven future Hall-of-Famers) competing for a 12-man USA roster.
MJ went on to lead the Bobby Knight hand-picked group of twelve to an Olympic Gold Medal while being the team’s leading scorer with 17.1 points per contest. Team USA went undefeated, despite the trials’ unofficial co-MVP in Barkley not making the roster. And no, he wasn’t injured. Simply put, Bobby Knight was just ‘being a d*ck.’
Thus Chuck missed a chance to play alongside ‘the best he’s ever seen,’ and ended up waiting eight years for such an opportunity to present itself once again. Then came ’92, and the assembling of the Dream Team. For the first time ever, Barkley and Jordan – both established NBA superstars – played on the same team. Six games into their undefeated run together, the ‘best he’s ever seen‘ turned into the ‘most competitive he’s ever seen,’ as Charles had a front-row seat to MJ the smack-talker going to work.
It happened during the team USA’s quarter-final matchup against Puerto Rico after Michael had played two 18s the morning of the game. During their pregame talk, Chuck Daly was deciding defensive matchups, assigning each member of his starting five with a Puerto Rican to guard. That’s when Jordan decided to take the matter into his own hands.
Michael said, ‘I got him.’ It was the point guard from Puerto Rico. Chuck said, ‘he’s the point guard Michael.’ Michael looks at him and says, ‘I said I got him, I read something he said about me in the newspaper, and I got him.’Charles Barkley, Coffe with Cal
According to Barkley, MJ wouldn’t let the guy dribble the ball, and when he did, No.9 would do his best impression of the defensive zig-zag drill, steering the Puerto Rican point guard whichever way he wanted. And he talked a lot of trash while doing it.
‘Don’t you ever talk about me publicly again, I’m Michael Jordan, don’t you ever talk about me.’Charles Barkley, Joseys Sport Nation
The Dream Team ended up beating Puerto Rico 115-77 and eventually winning the whole thing, marking MJ’s and Barkley’s first run together a success. Charles described playing alongside Michael as something ‘crazy to watch,’ and Jordan trash-talking the Puerto Rican point guard is the ultimate proof of it.