After dining with LIV CEO Greg Norman on Wednesday, Charles Barkley appears to be willing to join the Saudi-backed tour as a broadcaster.
He did an extensive interview with PostBarkley believes there is “selective anger” among the critics who go after LIV Golf and feels it would be hypocritical not to be part of the new tour if the money is right.
Further proof that he’s serious about LIV, he’ll be playing in the pro-am section of LIV’s event next week at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey.
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After dining with Norman at the Italian restaurant Preci in Atlanta, Barclay expects the Aussie golfer to be his commentator. Barkley, one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time, has become an iconic sports studio show hosting TNT’s “Inside the NBA.”
Barkley has signed Turner to a three-year, $30 million contract, according to sources.
“I would absolutely love to do both,” Barkley said. Post.
“I don’t know how Turner’s sponsors feel about this. I know there will be some comebacks.”
Barclay said he and Norman spoke about the Saudi-led group behind LIV Golf. The government of Saudi Arabia has been accused of murdering Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and other human rights abuses.
I said [Norman]Barkley said. “‘Listen, they’re making up words like ‘blood money’ and ‘sports washing.’ And I said, ‘We’ve all got ‘blood money’ and we’ve all got something ‘sport washed up’ so I don’t like those words, to be honest.’
“If you’re in pro sports, you’re taking some kind of money away from a great cause.”
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Asked if the NBA’s relationship with China was an example, Barkley replied, “Yeah, I don’t want to experience selective anger.”
As a follow-up, Barclays was asked if it was different if he was receiving a check from the Saudi government.
“Now that’s a hermeneutic,” Barkley said. “I’m also a Nike guy, so I’m not going to pick and choose where my money comes from, what I’m mad at. I just don’t think it’s fair. I think that makes you a hypocrite.
“And let’s be fair, all these golf tours are played in Saudi Arabia and China. That was my point.”
Still, Barkley is not alone in how everything plays out. He has endorsement deals with Capital One, Subway and Dick’s Sporting Goods. When the stories came out that Barkley was in touch with LIV Golf, the sponsors contacted him.
“They signed up with me,” Barkley said. “I told Subway, Capital One and Dick’s Sporting Goods, ‘Wait a minute. I haven’t signed anything. I haven’t met the guy. Let’s let this happen before you all call me mad.’
“Between the number you just mentioned [$10 million per year] And all my ads, to risk all that, I had to throw some serious money my way.
LIV has added big-name golfers like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, hired Arlo White for its YouTube broadcasts and, as The Post reported earlier this week, David Feherty. Both were previously at NBC Sports. The PGA Tour has decided that LIV players will not be able to participate in their events.
LIV continues to move forward with seemingly endless money from the Saudis, and Norman says a TV deal for Berkeley is expected.
“I think he thinks they’re going to get a TV deal,” Barkley said. “I’m pretty sure they’re going to get a TV deal too. Someone will step forward at some point.
“To be honest with you, I think it’s kind of smoking different things. I don’t think it’s one thing in particular, but I think the main thing is to use my personality.
Barkley consulted with Michael Wilbon, Mark Cuban, Ahmed Rashad and Bryant and Greg Gumbel before taking the meeting with Norman.
“These are people who have mentored me throughout my career,” Barkley said. “I got all the comments on it, and they didn’t see any problem with me taking this meeting — and I’m glad they did.”
This story was originally published in The New York Postand reproduced with permission.