BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, who has enjoyed tremendous popularity in his post-playing days through his work as an analyst for TNT and a corporate pitchman, has yet to receive a formal offer to join LIV Golf in a broadcasting role, he said Thursday.
“I can’t keep TNT in limbo. That’s not fair,” Barkley told ESPN before his appearance in a pro-am event at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, the site of the third LIV Tour event.
“Not only are they [TNT] concerned, my sponsors are concerned. I’ve heard from Subway, Capital One, Dick’s Sporting Goods. At some point I’m going to have to make a decision, plain and simple.”
At present, it would appear Barkley doesn’t have a decision to make. He said Thursday that despite meeting with LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman and expressing his receptiveness to receive an offer to work for LIV Golf as part of its broadcasting crew, no offer has yet been made.
“They haven’t offered me a contract. They asked me if I was interested and I said yes,” Barkley said. “I met with Greg and I told him yes. I’m in a win-win situation. If they offer me something good, that’s great. If they don’t, I’ve got a great job at TNT.”
Former President Donald Trump was also participating in Thursday’s pro-am at his golf course in northern New Jersey.
The proximity of the golf course to the site of the World Trade Center attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has drawn sharp criticism from the family members of 9/11 victims, who held a news conference earlier this week and plan to hold another one Friday.
“This event comes in the wake of members of 9/11 Justice sending former President Trump a letter earlier this month expressing the extreme pain, frustration and anger they feel as a result of his decision to host the Saudi-sponsored league at his club in New Jersey in the shadows of Ground Zero,” the organization said in a release earlier this week.
“I have sympathy for the 9/11 families,” Barkley told ESPN. “It’s probably the worst day in the history of our country.”
Said Trump to ESPN on Thursday: “Nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately, and they should have.”
A spokesman for the 9/11 Justice group said recently declassified FBI documents further proved Saudi Arabia’s role in the attacks, something the Saudi government has consistently denied.
“I’ve known these people for a long time,” Trump said of the LIV Tour’s Saudi Arabian financial backers. “They’ve been friends of mine for a long time. They’ve invested in many American companies. They own big percentages of many, many American companies and, frankly, what they’re doing for golf is so great. What they’re doing for the players is so great. The salaries are going to go way up.”
Barkley said that he doesn’t understand why people are angry at the golfers and why more outrage hasn’t been directed toward those companies that, like LIV Golf, receive financial backing from the Public Investment Fund Saudi Arabia.
“Everybody’s making up words, like, sportswashing and dirty money. I’m like, listen, if you play sports, we all take money from some sources you might not love or appreciate,” Barkley said. “I don’t want to be a hypocrite. 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.
“For some reason, everyone wants to place selective outrage,” Barkley said. “I’m never going to let that happen on my watch.”
LIV Golf on Wednesday announced plans to expand in 2023 to 14 events, with 48 golfers competing for an unprecedented $405 million in purses. LIV Golf also will stage additional tournaments in 2023 through its LIV Golf International Series, which was launched this year through a $300 million investment in the Asian Tour.
“The PGA was not loved by a lot of the players, as you know, for a long time,” Trump told ESPN. “Now they have an alternative. And nobody would’ve ever known whatever there was going to be a gold rush like this.”