Charles Barkley has ended all future contract talks with LIV Golf and will remain with TNT’s Inside The NBA, Barkley told The Post.
“I want to thank Greg Norman and LIV for their interest in me,” Barkley said in a phone interview. “I wish these guys every success and only the best. But in my best interest and fair to Turner – because Turner and basketball have given me everything in my life. It’s best for me to continue and I’m staying with Turner for the rest of my TV career.”
Barkley said his decision had nothing to do with LIV Golf being backed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund.
This week, during LIV’s event at Trump National in Bedminster, there were protests by 9/11 groups over Saudi Arabia’s connection to the terrorist attack.
Barkley has three years and $30 million left on his TNT deal. Aside from the $10 million he makes annually from TNT, he said on The Dan Patrick Show last week that he makes another $10 million from advertising, including Subway, Capital One and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
“My number one priority is to be fair to Turner and my sponsors, to be honest,” Barkley said. “I couldn’t just hold her, so I chose (Thursday) night. I thought, ‘Make a decision and live with it.’”
On Thursday, he played LIV’s Pro-Am event at Trump National. He said he enjoyed it.
“I sat down with a few [LIV] Folks,” Barkley said. “I told them, ‘When I told you, I would speak to you one way or another today, and I always keep my word. I will not be unfair to Turner. I will not be unfair to my sponsors. That’s the decision – and that’s it.”
Led by Greg Norman, the LIV Tour has signed notable golfers like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka for hundreds of millions but has yet to secure a TV deal in the United States. It is currently featured on YouTube and other free sites.
When Norman and Barkley met for dinner in Atlanta last week, Barkley was under the impression a TV deal was about to go through.
There have been various rumors about how much LIV Barkley could offer. With Fox Sports paying Tom Brady $37.5 million a year, Pat McAfee receiving more than $30 million from FanDuel, and Tony Romo and Troy Aikman getting $18 million, there was a feeling that LIV Barkley was making an outrageous offer could, with the idea that it would help it land a TV deal.
Turner has not yet made an attempt to tear up Barkley’s deal or attempt to extend it. He has three years left on his TNT contract, which expires at the same time as the network’s contract with the NBA.
“I haven’t spoken to Turner, to be honest,” Barkley said. “I think they were nervous because everyone was throwing all these numbers around. Of course, I would never try to get them involved in a bidding war. I haven’t spoken to Turner.”
The NBA Hall of Famer had previously made his stance clear on the idea of accepting the Saudi money. He reiterated that his decision had nothing to do with the end of the negotiations.
“It had nothing to do with it,” Barkley said. “I told you, ‘I don’t like those words – ‘sportswear’ and ‘blood money’. I don’t like those words at all because every country, including the United States, has things going on that they need to improve on.”
Barkley, 59, has said many times that he plans to retire at the end of this contract. The timing of Barkley’s contract and TNT’s NBA deal could potentially have more impact as he is the lynchpin of the legendary Inside the NBA.
“This is going to be interesting,” Barkley said. “I don’t want to overstep my greeting. I’ve been doing this for 21 years. First of all, dude, I’m almost 60 years old now. I’m very aware that my body is crumbling like all older guys’ bodies are crumbling. I’d like to be somewhere on vacation instead of sitting in Turner’s studio while I decay. I don’t want to get lost on TV.”