After a very public flirtation with the well-funded and controversial golf tour, Charles Barkley told the New York Post he won’t be defecting from TNT, where his basketball commentary is as hilarious as it is insightful.
“I want to thank Greg Norman and LIV for their interest in me,” Barkley said. “I wish those guys great success and nothing but the best. But, in my best interest, and being fair to Turner — because Turner and basketball have given me every single thing in my life — It is best for me to move on and I’m staying with Turner for the rest of my TV career.”
The 59-year-old NBA Hall of Famer told ESPN on Thursday that he had not been offered a job by Norman, the CEO of the golf tour. But he sounded interested.
🚨NEWS: Charles Barkley tells The Post he has ended discussions with LIV and he will stay at TNT. 🚨https://t.co/iC6Ee2H5SW
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) July 29, 2022
“I met with Greg and I told him yes. I’m in a win-win situation,” Barkley said Thursday. “If they offer me something good, that’s great. If they don’t, I’ve got a great job at TNT.”
Barkley was adamant that criticism of the league’s support from the Kingdom’s soverign investment fund would not keep him from bolting. Several top PGA stars, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Bryson DeChambeau, and others have been criticized for taking huge sums of money to play on the new tour. Tiger Woods reportedly turned down nearly $1 billion to join.
“Everybody’s making up words like ‘sportswashing’ and ‘dirty money,’” Barkley said. “I’m like, listen, if you play sports, we all take money from some sources you might not love or appreciate.”
“I don’t want to be a hypocrite,” he continued. “These guys [LIV golfers] are trying to make a living. I wish them nothing but the best. Same thing with my friends on the PGA Tour. But everybody is just kinda like trying to play the moral card.”
The LIV Golf International Series was launched this year through a $300 million investment in the Asian Tour. Earlier this week, LIV Golf rolled out plans to expand in 2023 to 14 events, with 48 golfers competing for an unprecedented $405 million in purses.
Barkley is an avid golfer and a frequent participant in pro-am tournaments, although he is better known for errant tee shots and wacky wisecracks than his prowess on the links.
Former President Donald Trump’s New Jersey golf club is currently hosting the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf tournament, and the former president took part in Thursday’s pro-am tourney – as did Barkley
“I think LIV has been a great thing for Saudi Arabia, for the image of Saudi Arabia,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “I think it’s going to be an incredible investment from that standpoint, and that’s more valuable than lots of other things because you can’t buy that — even with billions of dollars.”