Charles Barkley on The Steam Room Photo credit: The Steam Room

Charles Barkley is a supporter of PGA Tour players choosing to defect to LIV Golf. Brandel Chamblee and Fred Couples, however, are not.

Barkley recently joined SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio’s Gravy and the Sleeze with hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz. During the interview, the basketball Hall of Famer fired back at some of the pushback LIV’s participants continue to receive, making specific note of recent criticisms from Chamblee and Couples.

“I think some of the negative blowback, and I’ll be honest, from Brandel Chamblee and Fred Couples,” Barkley said. “I think some of the blowback and the personal shots they’re taking at these guys, I think they’re crossing the line. Hey man, those guys, they’re independent contractors, they have a right to go to whatever tour they want to go to. That’s a ton of money. Bless ‘em.”

Chamblee has been one of LIV’s harshest critics since the Saudi-backed golf league’s inception. And he was critical again in recent days after Jon Rahm announced his surprising departure from the PGA Tour. Last week, Chamblee blasted Rahm for the move, claiming he “sold his career.

Barkley, meanwhile, has advocated for athletes getting as much money as they can, even if that means collecting a massive paycheck from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to play for LIV. Last year, Barkley even tested his own value with LIV when he considered joining the golf league as a commentator before eventually deciding not to.

“My problem with this is all of a sudden now, everybody wants to worry about what’s clean money and dirty money,” Barkley argued. “There’s no clean money or dirty money in sports. Everybody does business in the Middle East, everybody does business in China.”

NBA players are undoubtedly benefitting from the sport’s business relations with China, and that’s often led to controversy. But if basketball players want to play professionally, there is no other comparable league.

Golfers joining LIV Golf, however, are choosing to go to a league backed by a country with human rights concerns where they can be used as ambassadors for the Saudi government. And that’s despite them having another option in the PGA Tour.

The morals behind such a decision might not matter as much in the future, with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour announcing an agreement to create one for-profit entity by merging with LIV earlier this year. However, certain details still need to be agreed on in their pre-announced deal, with the framework of that merger set to expire Dec. 31. LIV poaching Rahm just a few weeks before that deadline can certainly impact the merger as both sides jockey for leverage.

[SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to