NBA legend in 'blood money' debate over LIV Golf offer

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·Sports Reporter
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Charles Barkley is bullis about a potential offer from LIV Golf to take up a role in the commentary booth for the controversial series. Pictures: Getty Images
Charles Barkley is bullish about a potential offer from LIV Golf to take up a role in the commentary booth for the controversial series. Pictures: Getty Images

NBA legend Charles Barkley has weighed into the ongoing debate over the ethics of the LIV Golf series, after revealing he'd be willing to take an offer to be a commentator for the series.

Barkley said he had recently had dinner with LIV CEO Greg Norman, who he believed would likely extend an offer to join the series' broadcast team.

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It comes as Norman continues his war of words with Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee over his criticism of the series, which has been funded by a Saudi Arabian fund reportedly worth $3 billion.

The Basketball Hall of Fame member told the New York Post he would be entering the pro-am category at LIV's upcoming event at the Trump National in New Jersey, remarkably commenting that many people working in pro sports were likely benefiting from money generated 'not from a great cause'.

Barkley also said sponsors for his existing employer Turner Sports, where he has hosted Inside the NBA since 2000, would likely have concerns.

His own sponsors have already reached out to him as well, however the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns great said nothing had been set in stone.

“I told (Norman), ‘Listen, they are making up words, like ‘blood money’ and ‘sports washing.’" Barkley said.

“I said, ‘We have all taken ‘blood money’ and we all have ‘sports washed’ something so I don’t like those words, to be honest with you.

“If you are in pro sports, you are taking some type of money from not a great cause.”

Barkley said he believed Norman and LIV were serious about pursuing a TV rights deal, and that ideally he would accept a potential LIV offer and see out the remaining three years of his contract with Turner, woth a reporterd $30 million.

The NBA great cited the league's past relationships with China as an example of how sports are not always innocent, however he said it was 'semantics' to say he was on the payroll of the Saudi government.

“I’m a Nike guy, also, so I’m not going to do that thing where I pick and choose what I’m outraged about, where my money comes from. I just don’t think that is fair. I think that makes you a hypocrite," Barkley said.

“And let’s be fair, all these golf tours have played in Saudi Arabia and China. That was my point.”

LIV Golf closes player books ahead of further announcements

While newly crowned British Open champion Cameron Smith is yet to confirm whether he will jump ship to LIV Golf, CEO Norman says their player list is closed.

The Saudi-backed series, which rivals the PGA Tour, is reportedly chasing world No.2 Smith and fellow Australians Adam Scott and Marc Leishman.

LIV announced the signing of Swedish star Henrik Stenson, who was promptly stripped of his Ryder Cup captaincy, this week but it has been quiet on the Australian front.

Norman didn't reveal whether his compatriots had defected, but said they were no longer signing players.

"The rumours are true - we've closed up shop, as far as our players are concerned," he told Australian Golf Digest.

LIV Golf's player books are currently closed, CEO Greg Norman says. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/LIV Golf/Getty Images)
LIV Golf's player books are currently closed, CEO Greg Norman says. (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/LIV Golf/Getty Images)

"We're in the process of kicking the league off next year and we're a full year ahead of schedule.

"There will be more player announcements before then, but we're set on the maximum amount of players.

"It's interesting, we're still getting calls from agents of top-40 players in the world wanting to join LIV but it's too late now.

"What it tells me though, is what we're doing is very appealing to the world's best players."

Norman said gaining the support of golf's four majors and the Official World Golf Ranking was their next priority.

He felt they were well-positioned to secure ranking points which would further boost the legitimacy of their tournaments.

"The next, most important step outside of the players is getting OWGR points for our tournaments," Norman said.

With AAP

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