Michael Jordan remains one of the most popular figures in basketball to this day with his last championship ring won 20 years ago and the final game of his career played in 2003. But his immense popularity hasn't taken a hit thanks to an impressive resume and unique style of play that influenced generations to come. From his playing days to current executive years, Jordan has established plenty of relationships with players from various eras including the present.
Some of whom happen to be among his favorites as Jordan has signed them to a shoe deal, while also getting to know them on a personal level. And of course MJ has many associates from his days as the best player in the league, when he befriended a number of his on-court rivals. Jordan may be revered as the greatest player in history but that didn't happen without making many enemies along the way. Given his unmatched will to win, Jordan used to often get on the nerves of some of his teammates who found it challenging to put up with his antics.
When it came to opponents, Jordan developed quite the reputation for talking smack at any given opportunity - and that made him distant from some of the biggest stars of his era. Fans who witnessed years of magic on the court are well aware of his greatness as a player, but not everyone is familiar with Jordan's relationships with fellow players. Here are 10 NBA players Michael Jordan is close to and 10 he keeps his distance from:
20 Close To: Kemba Walker
Seeing as Kemba Walker has been the face of the Charlotte Hornets since getting drafted in 2011, it's safe to say that he enjoys a close relationship with Michael Jordan. Despite constantly being linked with other teams, Jordan has turned down all offers for Kemba, insisting that he is their franchise player. And while he has had some good seasons under his belt, Kemba has taken his game to the next level this year, repaying Jordan's faith in him throughout the years. Jordan greatly admires Kemba's game as well as his personality, which is why he opted to keep him around for so many years.
19 Keeps Distance From: Reggie Miller
Michael Jordan had a number of rivals throughout the years, many of whom attempted to dethrone him as the most dominant player in the league. Among them was Reggie Miller who became one of his main on-court rivals from his rookie season, and Jordan didn't hold back at all, referring to the former as a flopper. And when asked about his most hated opponent, the only name that he mentioned was Reggie as he couldn't stand his playing style. While the years have passed by since the heated competition between them, they haven't gotten any friendlier on a personal level.
18 Close To: Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is a player who instantly caught the attention of Michael Jordan as he was rising through the league, earning him a hefty contract with the Jordan brand. Since then, Jordan has always been full of praise towards Westbrook, listing him as one of the better players in the NBA. In 2016, Westbrook was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame by none other than Jordan himself, who compared Russell's game to himself. As much as MJ appears to admire his style of play, he is also very fond of Westbrook as a person and the way he carries himself overall.
17 Keeps Distance From: Stephon Marbury
When Stephon Marbury came out with his very own signature shoes in Starbury, he had a specific target market in mind. With the success of the Jordan brand taking a huge share of the market, Marbury was very critical of Michael Jordan selling expensive shoes that are valued much more than their worth. He would go on to refer to Jordan as a sellout while noting that he has failed to live up to his role as a role model due to his silence on social issues. Based on Marbury's consistent attacks towards Jordan, it's no surprise that the latter wants nothing to do with him.
16 Close To: B.J. Armstrong
There aren't many people who can claim that they get to speak on the phone with Michael Jordan, but former teammate B.J. Armstrong has maintained a strong friendship with Jordan well past their playing days. After having played for the Chicago Bulls for six seasons, Armstrong was apart of the first three peat by the team. And once he left the team, and then basketball altogether later on, that didn't affect his friendship with Jordan as they remained on great terms. Armstrong has revealed in recent interviews that he always keeps in touch with Jordan through phone calls, mostly to catch up on personal matters.
15 Keeps Distance From: Draymond Green
Draymond Green has never been one shy to speak his mind. Being one of the most vocal players today, Green has landed in hot waters for controversial remarks in the past - including some comments about Michael Jordan that weren't well received by fans. Widely acknowledged as the greatest of all time, as well as the measuring stick for all players since his era, Green questioned as to why Jordan's name is still brought up so often in such discussions. And while Jordan hasn't directly responded to him, he may have thrown a subtle shot when he praised many members of the Golden State Warriors with the exception of Green.
14 Close To: Carmelo Anthony
Coming into the league, Carmelo Anthony was one of the most hyped prospects of the 2000s so it's no surprise that he was able to ink a deal with the Jordan brand shortly afterwards. Michael Jordan admired Anthony's game and wanted him on the team, while the latter greatly admired MJ growing up. While they initially held a professional working relationship, they did grow closer as Anthony became one of the best players in the NBA. They have also co-hosted basketball camps together and have been spotting hang out at various events over the years, proving that MJ is very fond of Melo.
13 Keeps Distance From: Dwyane Wade
For so many years, Dwyane Wade was among the faces of the Jordan brand and often the most branded star of the bunch in their shoes campaigns. Jordan was quite fond of D-Wade for the longest but that all changed when the latter opted to leave the brand in 2012. Despite receiving an offer to re-sign with Jordan, Wade opted to take a completely different direction by joining Li-Ning.
While Wade claimed that he was simply hoping to build his own signature brand and following, it didn't go too well with Jordan who had given him special treatment through the years.
12 Close To: Magic Johnson
Two of the greatest basketball players in history happen to be friends away from the court. And while they had many battles in the NBA, they always got along well on a personal level. They were also apart of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, which allowed them to grow even closer as they hung out often at the time. Since then, the two greats have maintained a solid friendship as they hang out from now time to time as evident by the numerous photos out there. Jordan might not allowed get along with fellow great ballers, but Magic is among the exceptions.
11 Keeps Distance From: Steve Kerr
Going back to their days as teammates, Michael Jordan and Steve Kerr have never been on the best of terms. The former had developed a reputation for being somewhat mean towards his teammates, and his treatment of Kerr certainly wasn't an exception. Jordan constantly talked down to him, and even went as far as to get physical during one practice. While Kerr did end up earning Jordan's trust and respect on the court, they have remained distant from each other away from basketball. Kerr has previously admitted to not having any sort of interaction with Jordan these days, which isn't surprising given their history.
10 Close To: Chris Paul
Michael Jordan has many close associates who happen to be active in the NBA today, perhaps none of whom are closer to him than Chris Paul. Not only did Jordan make sure to sign Paul to the Jordan brand as a young star in the league, but he also kept him at the forefront of the campaigns regardless of his team. Paul was quickly able to earn a signature shoe from the brand, which is quite the accomplishment given the status of the brand. And while they enjoy a business partnership, Paul and Jordan have also developed a personal friendship as well.
9 Keeps Distance From: Vince Carter
Michael Jordan was guaranteed to have a spot for his final All-Star appearance in 2003, but the stiff competition meant that someone would be getting snubbed. The Eastern Conference happened to be filled with exciting guards who were highly popular with fans just as Jordan was wrapping up his career with the Washington Wizards. Although fans didn't vote him in as a starter, there was immense pressure from the media on Vince Carter to allow Jordan to have his spot.
Given Carter's popularity at the time, as well as an ego that one would expect from a star, he wasn't thrilled about the idea especially since Jordan had previously called him out for not playing any defense.
8 Close To: Blake Griffin
Since 2012, Blake Griffin has been signed to the Jordan Brand. In the summer of 2018, they extended their partnership by two years, and it is obviously paying off given Griffin's great start to the season. And while Jordan might admire Griffin as a player, he also seems to be fond of him overall as a person as well.
In fact, Jordan has named him as one of his favorite players to watch, while stating that Griffin is more suitable to star in Space Jam 2 than LeBron James - although MJ's opinion didn't change the producers' mind regarding the matter.
7 Keeps Distance From: LeBron James
Like so many kids around the world, LeBron James also grew up idolizing Michael Jordan. Little did he know that debates would be sparked regarding who the better player is between them as James has been the closest to dethrone Jordan since his retirement. And while Jordan has never disrespected LeBron, he did throw some subtle shots towards him going back to 2004 when he called Carmelo Anthony a more complete player. That's not to mention criticizing a number of LeBron's career moves, as well as preferring Blake Griffin to star in the sequel of Space Jam.
LeBron has always admitted to not have a friendship with Jordan beyond the respect and admiration he has always had towards him, although it seems like the latter has always remained distant.
6 Close To: Kobe Bryant
In previous years, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant didn't exactly have a known relationship although the comparisons between them always linked had the two legendary players linked together. But as the latter began edging closer to retirement, he found himself developing a business relationship with Jordan that didn't exist in the past. When Bryant came into the league, Jordan was among the many players that he looked up to - and he managed to gain his respect in the process. Jordan doesn't just mentor anybody, so he clearly saw something special in Bryant and shades of himself as he showed him the ropes.
5 Keeps Distance From: Kevin Durant
Given that Michael Jordan has developed a friendship with Russell Westbrook, who is also signed to the Jordan Brand, it's no surprise that he defended him in the media following the split of the OKC core. Jordan complimented Westbrook's loyalty to the Thunder as well as his decision to lead a team on his own instead of joining a contender.
Jordan also threw shots towards Kevin Durant's decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors, claiming that he wouldn't have taken that same path since it doesn't hold the same value. Based on comments given to the media, it appears that Jordan isn't particularly a fan of Durant.
4 Close To: Charles Oakley
Charles Oakley has been one of Michael Jordan's closest friends since they joined forces together as members of the Chicago Bulls in 1985. And when the former was traded away from the team just three years later, Jordan was very disappointed and had a falling with management. While MJ has dropped many of his past friends due to personal differences as they grew older, Oakley has remained by his side and constantly speaks highly of his longtime pal. In fact, as Oakley was struggling to land a deal in his final years in the league, it was Jordan who signed him for one more season as the GM of the Washington Wizards in 2002-03.
3 Keeps Distance From: Isiah Thomas
The rivalry between Michael Jordan and the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons is well-documented, battling numerous times in the playoffs. While Jordan wasn't fond of the majority of the Pistons' team members, he had bitter feelings towards Isiah Thomas. In fact, Jordan threatened to quit the 1992 Dream Team Olympic team if Thomas were to get invited as initially planned. Decades have passed by since the two Hall of Famers clashed on the court, and they still aren't on speaking terms to this day. Thomas doesn't miss an opportunity to throw shots towards Jordan, so it's safe that they are still very distant from each other.
2 Close To: Scottie Pippen
Upon his arrival to the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen didn't immediately click with his longtime running partner Michael Jordan. They had to go through a patchy period before they got on the same page, and they never looked back again. Not only did they lead the Bulls to six championships, but they also became close friends away from the court.
While Jordan has lost many friends along the way, he has retained a close connection with Pippen throughout the years as they always keep in touch. Considering the strong bond that they shared during their playing days, it is no surprise that it carried over to retirement.
1 Keeps Distance From: Charles Barkley
Having been close friends since their playing days, Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan's friendship came to a sudden end a few years ago. During an episode of Inside the NBA, Barkley was critical of Jordan's moves as the general manager of the Charlotte Hornets - and while he kept it strictly related to basketball matters, Jordan didn't take too kindly to Barkley's words. According to the latter, Jordan was angry upon hearing Barkley's thoughts on TV, and it led to a bitter ending to a long-standing friendship. Since then, Jordan and Barkley have only spoken once although the latter has expressed interest in reuniting.