Charles Barkley has ended any future contract talks with LIV Golf and will stay 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 those guys great success and nothing but the best. But, in my best interest, and being fair to Turner — because Turner and basketball have given me every single thing in my life. It is best for me to move on and I’m staying with Turner for the rest of my TV career.”
Barkley said his decision did not have 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 have been protests from 9/11 groups because of Saudi Arabia’s connection to the terrorist attack.
Barkley has three years and $30 million remaining on his TNT deal. Besides the $10 million a year he makes from TNT, he said on “The Dan Patrick Show” last week that he makes another $10 million in endorsements, including Subway, Capital One and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
“My No. 1 priority is to be fair to Turner and my sponsors, to be honest with you,” Barkley said. “I couldn’t just keep them holding on so I made up my mind (Thursday) night. I was like, ‘Make a decision and live with it.’”
On Thursday, he played in LIV’s pro-am event at Trump National. He said he enjoyed it.
“I sat down with a couple of [LIV] people,” Barkley said. “I told them, ‘When I told you, I was going to talk to you today, one way or the other and I stick to my word, always. I’m not going to be unfair to Turner. I’m not going to be unfair to my sponsors. This is the decision – and that’s it.’”
The Greg Norman-led LIV Tour has signed big name golfers, like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka for hundreds of millions, but it has yet to pick up a TV deal in the United States. It is presently shown on YouTube and other free sites.
When Norman and Barkley met last week for dinner in Atlanta, Barkley came away with the impression that a TV deal would happen.
There were various rumors as to how much LIV might offer Barkley. In light of Fox Sports paying Tom Brady $37.5 million a year, Pat McAfee receiving $30-plus million from FanDuel and Tony Romo and Troy Aikman at $18 million, there was a feeling that LIV might make Barkley an outrageous offer with the idea it would help it secure a TV contract.
Turner has not yet made a move to rip up Barkley’s deal or to try to extend him. He has three years left on his TNT contract, which ends at the same time as the network’s deal with the NBA does.
“I’ve not talked to Turner, to be honest with you,” Barkley said. “I think they were nervous because everybody was throwing around all these numbers. I would obviously never try to get them into a bidding war. I have not talked to Turner.”
The NBA Hall of Famer had previously made his feelings on the idea of accepting the Saudi money clear. He reiterated his decision didn’t have anything to do with ending negotiations.
“That had nothing to do with it,” Barkley said. “I told you, ‘I don’t like those words – ‘sports washing’ and ‘blood money.’ I don’t like those words at all because every country, including the United States, have stuff going on that they need to improve upon.”
Barkley, 59, has often said that he wants to retire at the end of this contract. The timing of Barkley’s contract and TNT’s NBA deal could potentially provide more leverage as he is the kingpin to its iconic “Inside the NBA.”
“That’s going to be interesting,” Barkley said. “I don’t want to overstay my welcome. I’ve been doing it 21 years already. First off, dude, I’m almost 60 years old now. I’m very aware of my body disintegrating, like all the older guys’ bodies are disintegrating. I would like to be on vacation somewhere instead of sitting in Turner’s studio as I decay. I don’t want to decay on television.”