Former NBA star Charles Barkley is rejecting the possibility of leaving his current role as an NBA analyst and joining LIV Golf, the Saudi-backed league that has faced controversy but been joined by several high-profile PGA Tour players.
Barkley told The New York Post on Friday that he closed the door on potentially signing a contract with LIV Golf despite interest in him from the league’s head, former professional golfer Greg Norman. Barkley will remain an analyst for TNT’s “Inside the NBA.”
“I want to thank Greg Norman and LIV for their interest in me. I wish those guys great success and nothing but the best,” Barkley said. “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.”
The Post reported that Barkley had not received any official offer yet. He has three years left on his contract for TNT.
Several notable golfers, including Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, have joined the LIV Golf tournament, leading the PGA Tour to sanction them with suspensions or fines.
Norman has fiercely defended LIV Golf, saying that the tournament being supported by Saudi Arabia is not a factor and arguing that people would not take an issue if a U.S.-based hedge fund supported the league.
The Saudi regime has been criticized internationally for its record of human rights abuses. Critics have said the country is using the tournament to try to gloss over the abuses, including the 2018 killing of U.S.-based Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.