Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley have a long history together. The duo — born a mere three days apart — entered the NBA nearly 40 years ago, both members of the 1984 NBA Draft. Along the way, they had Hall of Fame careers, played plenty of golf, and starred in Space Jam together.
Today, Barkley and Jordan aren’t on speaking terms. Barkley made comments that Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Hornets, doesn’t have enough people around him telling him “no.” Per Barkley, Jordan got upset after hearing those comments and broke off the friendship.
During their playing days, though, the two stars were good pals. And as friends do, Jordan was looking out for Barkley.
Both players had signed with Nike — remember, back then, Nike wasn’t the apparel behemoth it is today. Jordan happened to see Barkley’s contract and offered a bit of advice.
“He says, ‘I was looking at your contract. You’re making about three million dollars. Tell Nike you want a million, and you want the rest in stock options,'” Barkley said. “And I said, ‘ok, I’ll run it by my guys.'”
Barkley’s team thought it could be a good idea if Nike turned out to be a major contender in the basketball industry. Barkley believed Jordan was the greatest player in the world, so he was convinced and agreed to what Jordan suggested.
By Barkley’s estimation, he made ten times what he would have made if he took $2 million in cash. That means he likely earned at least $20 million from the increased value in those stock options. He still has a relationship with the company today, which is also probably a result of the stock tip.
Over the course of his career, Barkley earned about $43.6 million in salary. Scoring additional millions from Nike and other endorsement deals certainly helped boost Barkley’s net worth. Though he’s not a billionaire like Jordan, he’s doing just fine. And keep in mind, Charles’ current $60 million net worth includes roughly $30 million Charles has admitted to have lost gambling over his lifetime.
And maybe if the two ever reconcile, Barkley can pick up the check at dinner as a thank you.
Hear Barkley tell the story below.