GOLF

Charles Barkley Names His Price To Join LIV Golf And The Outrage That Comes With It

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While golfers have tiptoed in their negotiations with LIV Golf and frequently bristled with questions about the league, Charles Barkley takes no such approach.

The Basketball Hall of Famer and broadcaster TNT approach his flirtation with the controversial Saudi-backed golf league as he does on most topics – with candor.

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Barkley, who admitted he was in negotiations with LIV Golf and is playing in the league’s New Jersey Pro-Am this week at a Trump golf course, spoke with The Dan Patrick Show on Monday about talks. He named his price for joining the league as a broadcaster while acknowledging it could mark the end of his TNT career. He then gave the tour an ultimatum.

So what would it take for Barkley to join LIV Golf?

Barkley referenced the “crazy” LIV Golf paydays the league’s biggest names got, including $200 million for Phil Mickelson and $150 million for Dustin Johnson.

“If they offer me something crazy, I’ll take it too,” Barkley told Patrick.

When asked what kind of offer would guarantee his services, Barkley thought about it but stopped short of naming a specific number.

“Given how much I earn now, it would take a really huge number to give up my life right now,” Barkley continued. “I’m not going to give up my life for…I don’t like to talk about how much money I make.”

Patrick then phrased the question in a way that prompted Barkley to recognize a specific number, asking if he would sign off for three times his hypothetical annual income of $20 million, a figure Barkley confirmed to be nearly accurate.

“If they triple it, the next time I’m on your show, the first question would be better ‘Charles, where are we celebrating tonight?’ That should be your first question if they triple what I’m earning now.”

So this is it. Charles Barkley will swoop in for LIV Golf if they offer him $60 million a year – or thereabouts. Would it take less? He didn’t say.

Barkley then told Patrick he needed an offer soon or talks were over.

“I’m going to give it a deadline,” Barkley said of LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman. “The deadline will be Thursday. … I’m not going to keep TNT in limbo, to be honest with you. I don’t think it’s fair on them. …

“They got a lot of play from me coming to play up there on Thursday. I’m not just gonna be a pony without a show. I’ve got you all a pub for a week. Don’t waste my time. I’m I’m not gonna Don’t waste your time. But when I leave New Jersey on Thursday night, if I don’t have an offer in hand, it’s over.

Will LIV Golf reach Charles Barkley’s asking price? (Shanna Lockwood/Reuters)

A heavy decision for Barkley

As Barkley negotiates in public, he makes one thing clear. He has an award for going on a tour fully funded by a Saudi government with a huge record of human rights abuses. That the tour is shelling out such exorbitant numbers to attract top talent suggests that it is indeed a ‘sportswashing’ effort to legitimize a regime on the world stage rather than a profit-driven enterprise. .

This is a tactic that has already been used on the world sports scene. See Adolph Hitler’s Nazi regime and the 1936 Olympics. See, more recently, the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and 2022. See the upcoming World Cup in Qatar which is allegedly actively engaged in human rights atrocities. man to build the facilities that will host the games.

Barkley balked at the commentary surrounding LIV Golf, lambasting critics as engaging in “selective outrage”.

“Look, they’re making up words, like blood money and sports washing,” Barkley told the New York Post last week. “I said, ‘We’ve all taken the blood money and we’ve all got something sporting washed away, so I don’t like those words, to be honest with you.

“If you’re in professional sports, you’re kind of taking money from a bad cause.”

The NBA’s relationship with China is often cited as an example by Barkley. The league actively does business with a nation also known for its active record of human rights abuses. The NBA and its players who do business with China are subject to fair criticism.

Meanwhile, the US government is actively doing business with the Saudis, as evidenced by President Joe Biden’s visit to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last week amid soaring oil prices. The US government holds Bin Salman responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

There are fair criticisms to be made. There is also a notable difference between the NBA’s relationship with China and LIV Golf’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. The NBA doesn’t just exist to support China. LIV Golf, on the other hand, exists as a mechanism to improve Saudi Arabia’s position on the world stage with the paychecks signed by the Saudi government. And that’s the crux of the outrage aimed at LIV Golf.

If Barkley signs up for those paychecks, he’s also signing up for the fallout that comes with his decision. It means a possible end to his stint as the beloved NBA broadcaster that defined his post-game career. It means moving from the forefront of sports commentary to a niche tour that has no broadcast contract. It means alienating a significant portion of his fanbase.

And he appears at peace with it all. As long as the price is right.

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