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It sounds like NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley is seriously considering joining the LIV Golf tour as a broadcaster. After meeting with tour CEO Greg Norman on Wednesday, Barkley confirmed he would play in the next LIV event, according to the New York Post.
The two reportedly had dinner together in Atlanta. Norman was expected to pitch Barkley on joining LIV Golf as a broadcaster during that meeting. Barkley confirmed as much Thursday, saying he would meet with Norman to discuss the role.
Barkley playing in the pro-am does not guarantee he will join the tour as a broadcaster, but it signals he has no qualms about being associated with the league. A number of big-name golf stars jumped from the PGA Tour to the LIV in recent weeks. LIV Golf, which is backed by $2 billion in Saudi Arabian government funding, has shelled out massive amounts of money to draw talent. Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson are among the biggest names to join LIV Golf.
The league has faced criticism due to Saudi Arabia's awful record of human rights abuses. Golfers who jumped from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf have been banned from PGA events. Some golfers have lost sponsorships over the decision to join. Those consequences are offset by the money the LIV can offer. Mickelson reportedly signed a deal worth around $200 million to join the tour.
Will Charles Barkley join LIV Golf as a broadcaster?
Barkley should also be in for a massive payday if he decides to join LIV Golf. Barkley reportedly has a three-year, $30 million contract with TNT as an NBA analyst, according to the Post. LIV Golf could probably blow that offer out of the water.
If it does, Barkley will have to make the same decision as many of the golfers who jumped to LIV golf: How much money is enough to deal with the backlash? If Barkley accepts the offer, TNT will also have a decision to make: Can Barkley remain on the network while inviting controversy due to his role with LIV Golf?
He at least hopes so.
“In a perfect scenario, I would love to do both,” Barkley told the New York Post. “I don’t know how Turner’s sponsors are going to feel about it. I know there is going to be some blowback.”
Barkley has proven over his career that he doesn't really care about backlash. His willingness to play in the pro-am is yet another example of that. If he decides to make it official and join LIV Golf as a broadcaster, he's probably already prepared for what comes next.
Barkley: We have all taken 'blood money'
Barkley addressed the backlash related to the LIV Golf league with the New York Post on Thursday.
He thinks there is just "selective outrage" regarding the new venture and, in his eyes, everyone has taken "blood money" at some point.
“I told [Norman],” Barkley said, via the New York Post. “’Listen, they are making up words, like ‘blood money’ and ‘sports washing.’ I said, ‘We have all taken ‘blood money’ and we all have ‘sports washed’ something so I don’t like those words, to be honest with you.’
“If you are in pro sports, you are taking some type of money from not a great cause.”
As for his other sponsors, Barkley said he's spoken with plenty of them already. Many golfers who have made the jump to LIV Golf have lost major deals — and Barkley certainly has a lot of them who could back out.
"They checked in with me,” Barkley said, via the New York Post. “What I told Subway, Capital One and Dick’s Sporting Goods, I said, ‘Wait a minute. I haven’t signed anything. I haven’t met with the guy. Let’s let this thing play out before you all call me all upset.’
“Between the number you just mentioned [$10 million per year] and all my commercials, for me to risk all of that, it would have to be some serious money thrown my way.”