Rumors have swirled of late that the latest big name who may decamp to the Saudi-backed LIV golf tour is TNT NBA analyst and onetime owner of the worst swing in golf, Charles Barkley.
PGA legend Greg Norman is the league’s CEO, and big name U.S. players like Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson have already signed on for eye-popping sums. Tiger Woods turned LIV down.
Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and questions about the country’s ties to the Sept. 11 attacks have many reluctant to partner with LIV for any price. Indeed, families of 9/11 victims have called the decision to go forward this weekend with an LIV tournament at Donald Trump’s Bedminster golf club in New Jersey, not far from where the attacks took place, “offensive, disrespectful and hurtful.”
As a result, no U.S. broadcaster or cable outlet has made a deal with LIV Golf as of yet. The outfit’s events can only be watched via stream on LIVGolf.com and its YouTube and Facebook pages.
Even so, British broadcaster Arlo White signed on with the league earlier this year, with NBC’s golf analyst David Feherty following suit. The legendary Gary McCord is also reportedly in talks.
In a recent conversation on the Dan Patrick Show, Barkley said no decision has been made, but admitted to taking a meeting with Norman. He also said the rumors have weighed on him.
“It’s been very stressful. I met with Greg. He asked me if I’m interested. I said, ‘Of course. I’m here. I wouldn’t have dinner with you if I wasn’t interested.’ I’m waiting for them to make me an offer. That’s all I know.”
Barkley said he loves TNT, where he’s been since 2000, and his Inside the NBA compatriots there — Kenny, Ernie and Shaq. “But if those dudes (LIV) threw something crazy at me, I have to listen. And listen, I’m not going to get on here and say, ‘It’s not about the money.’ Of course it’s about the money.”
He continued, “They’re giving guys $200 million, $150 million, $120 million. I’d be stupid not to listen to that conversation.”
The NBA great said his considerations also include the following: “I have three years left on my TNT deal, and I’m probably going to lose all of my commercials.” Barkley is a spokesman for Subway, Dick’s, Fan Duel and a multitude of other companies. “I’m not sure how the public is going to get about commercials. I might not get commercials any more.”
Barkley said he has not had a single conversation with TNT about possibly doing both jobs, “Not one. They have been very quiet.”
He also maintained that, “Unless they [LIV] do something crazy, I’m not leaving TNT.”
Patrick then asked Barkley what kind of offer it would take for him to leave his longtime broadcast home, where his salary is said to be $10 million annually.
“If they triple it…next time I’m on your show, the first question better be, ‘Charles, where we celebrating at tonight?’” Barkley said.
Asked about human rights criticisms Barkley said, “I just think it’s funny they are more interested in civil rights in Saudi Arabia, a place 99.9% of the people in the U.S. have never been. Why don’t you all worry about the civil rights of the people here in the United States?”