Charles Barkley explains why his bromance with Michael Jordan remains strained

Competitors on the court during their playing days, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley were actually great friends off the hardwood, sharing a laugh on the golf course and in Vegas casinos. The two, however, have drifted apart in recent years, mainly because Barkley was publicly critical of Jordan's player personnel moves on the then-Charlotte Bobcats when they were one of the worst teams in the league in the early part of the decade.

Barkley was just voicing his opinion, which he is paid to do as an analyst on TNT's Inside the NBA. But apparently Barkley's comments rubbed Jordan the wrong way, causing their friendship -- still to this day -- to become strained.

The two were photographed at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in September but according to Barkley's recent appearance on ESPN's The Dan Le Batard Show, it was nothing more than an "awkward" photo-op.

So after the HALL OF FAME the GOAT came down for congrats! #UNC #tarheelpride #BCHOF2016

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"I love Michael. I miss Michael's friendship. He was a great friend to me for a long period of time, and I love him and I miss him like a brother. But we just happened to be at the same place. We have not [become friends again]," Barkley told Le Batard about the photo. "I would love to mend that relationship, but we just happened to be at the same place and we took a picture together. It was a public forum. I wish Michael nothing but the best. I love him like a brother, but we are not back to where we used to be."

Le Batard expressed remorse about Jordan's friendship with Barkley ending and the Hall of Fame big man felt the same way. Barkley, though, is sticking by his criticism about Jordan's team and believes that since he wasn't heaping praise on his friend, their friendship suffered as a consequence.

"I think that some people, when you're their friend, they expect you to have their back, no matter what," Barkley said. "And part of my job sucks sometimes when I have to criticize people I like or a friend. And what I said about Michael, which was that he had to do a better job of putting people around him because I thought he had too many people around him that just did what he said to do, and he took it personal.

"He got really angry ... but hey man, I feel like I have to do my job. I have told people, I really miss the guy. He was like a brother to me for 30 years. But he got upset at me and we haven't spoken. That was the first time I had seen or spoken to him in years."

This is all very sad. Especially since, it seems like a very trivial misunderstanding caused a once glorious friendship to end.

Barkley did tell Le Batard, that he won't apologize for doing his job but he does appear to be more than willing to fix things between him and Jordan. Perhaps the two should have a sit-down at some point and try to work things out. Because it would be a shame for one of the best NBA friendships of all-time to continue to be non-existent.

CBS Sports Writer

Ananth Pandian has been writing about all NBA-related things including the social and lifestyle aspect of the sport for CBS Sports since 2015. His name is actually easy to pronounce, just remember it is... Full Bio

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