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Charles Oakley on how his trade to the Knicks forced Michael Jordan to change his game

Charles Oakley on playing against Jordan after leaving the Bulls

Charles Oakley on playing against Jordan after leaving the Bulls

Michael Jordan was upset after the Bulls traded Charles Oakley to the Knicks. He not only lost a friend but wound up on the wrong side of one of the toughest challenges in the NBA during the late 80s -- dealing with Oak's interior defense. According to Oakley, the trade itself didn't ruin their relationship. However, it did force MJ to change his game.

"Michael went to his jump shot once I got traded"

"No more picks, no more outlets," said Michael after the Bulls got rid of his protector, the league`s No. 2 rebounder, and the NBA's ultimate enforcer -- one that instilled toughness into the 6-6 shooting guard ready to take the league by storm. "He had it on, being around me, seeing me handling things, handling people, making sure everything OK," Oakley said during Takeline Podcast. "I think a little bit rubbed off, but inside he has the toughness already with him. He just needed to see another blueprint of it."

Despite being one of the best interior defenders in the NBA at the time, Oakley's lack of offense eventually led to his departure. The Bulls didn't exactly miss his impact on that side of the floor -- Bill Cartwright made up for it -- but his physical presence down low was something they could hardly compensate for. Especially since now, they were forced to deal with it themselves.

Regardless of MJ being his former teammate and friend, Oakley’s mindset was the same – protect what was his. That's why he never took it easy on No.23. And the competitor he was, Michael didn't mind.

"No matter who I played against, I had to do the same thing; play defense, clog the middle and let them know you still can't come to the lane," Oak said. "We didn't have no problem. He took it as business, and when we played against the Bulls, I didn't see him as much. He shot a lot of jump shots, and my game was the same; you come to the paint, if your jersey is the opposite color, I gotta step up."

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According to Oakley, his trade to the Knicks forced MJ to change his game and stop relying exclusively on his athleticism. Thus Michael developed an in-between game, something that became his go-to throughout the rest of his career.

Michael went to his jump shot once I got traded, 'cause he knew he had to pull up. He talked a lot of trash like, 'Yeah, I was born at the wrong time,' but he knew if he came down that lane he's gonna have to pay a toll.

Charles Oakley, The Draymond Green Show

Two rivals getting along

The trade forced friends to become rivals. But the rivalry never left the court. Contrary to popular belief that two guys on the opposite teams can't get along, Oak and Michael never allowed the brutality of the Knicks-Bulls rivalry to intervene with their relationship. Today's equivalent of that would be Draymond Green and LeBron James.

"The reality is, we never hated each other," Draymond Green said. "Well, maybe when I first came into the league. Because you're fighting for respect. It was never a lack of respect thing; it was just more of an 'I don't know you, you don't really know me.' But, we quickly got to know each other, and we've been building a relationship since."

Fast forward three decades and MJ and Oak are still friends -- unlike Michael and Scottie Pippen, who allowed The Last Dance to ruin their relationship. Some people can't wrap their heads around it; playing against each other should automatically mean you hate each other. But two former Bulls rose above that. Draymond and LeBron are doing the same thing.

You know the deal, LeBron know the deal. Like I said, with me and Mike, it's business. You trying to win, just like LeBron trying to win. Mike wanna win; I wanna win. So at the end of the day, shake your hand, go separate ways.

Charles Oakley, The Draymond Green Show

It turns out one of the toughest guys in NBA history doesn't hate his biggest rival. Why do I have a feeling some people are about to declare him soft for it?

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