The last few weeks have seen plenty of discussion of Turner Sports’ Charles Barkley potentially jumping to Saudi-backed series LIV Golf, with Barkley doing a lot himself to intensify that. In the end, though, Barkley (seen above at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Tahoe earlier this month) decided to stay with Turner and Inside The NBA and end his talks with LIV (even though he never received a formal contract offer from them). He spoke to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post on that Friday morning:
Charles Barkley has ended any future contract talks with LIV Golf and will stay with TNT’s “Inside The NBA,” Barkley told The Post Friday morning.
“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.”
As Marchand notes there, Barkley still has three years and $30 million remaining on his Turner deal. His “the rest of my TV career” line here is notable, too: Barkley has often mused publicly about retiring, including setting a date of age 60 (which he’ll turn next February) both in 2019 and then again last June, but he said in February he plans to finish his current contract and then step away once it’s up. In either case, it seems like he has an end date in mind, but we’ll see when that actually is.
It certainly is interesting that Barkley’s now said he plans to be staying with Turner for the rest of his TV career, though. That’s not something you say if you’re hoping to draw some bidding interest from rivals, so that adds to the case that Barkley has the finish line in sight one way or another. And it’s notable that after exploring other options with LIV, he now seems content with the status quo at Turner.
The Barkley-to-LIV saga appears to have worked out well for the golf series even without landing him, though. Barkley’s repeated public discussion of offers from LIV, and public defenses of the series and those joining it, have helped the series accomplish its primary goal of drawing attention. And they didn’t even have to give him a massive contract for that, or figure out how to work an analyst mostly known for his NBA work (and his bad golf swings) into supposedly-serious golf coverage on a regular basis. So LIV seems to have come out of this pretty decently.