BEDMINSTER, NJ – Charles Barkley has a question for people wondering why anyone would partner with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour: why aren’t they outraged at all the other American companies doing dealing with the same controversial wealth management fund, which is overseen by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia?
“You can’t choose who you want to be mad at,” Barkley said Thursday, noting some of the companies the fund has invested in. “They should be mad at Berkshire Hathaway, Tesla, Bank of America, Disney. But they are not. They’re just mad at these golfers.
At least that is Barkley’s view and the view pushed by many working with the new breakaway tour that is causing so much upheaval in golf, sports and US-Saudi relations. For some, the Tour is a busier cash cow offering huge sums guaranteed to lure golfers away from the established PGA Tour. For others, it is a cynical attempt by the Saudi prince to use sport to clean up his government’s poor global record of human rights abuses.
Barkley, who has never been immune to controversy, was in the middle of it all on Thursday, alongside former president and tournament host Donald J. Trump.
On a scorching day at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, which hosts the third LIV Golf event starting Friday, Barkley sweated through questions about his potential tour involvement, then sweated through 18 holes in the pro-tournament. am.
For now, Barkley, a former basketball star and popular hoops commentator on sports network TNT, is just a guest at the tournament. He had informal talks with Greg Norman, the general manager of the LIV series, to join as a commentator. But he said no official offer had been made and he imposed a Friday deadline for the tour to do so.
“When I wake up in the morning, if they haven’t said anything, I’m going to say, ‘Guys, I’ll play in your pro-am whenever you want, if I’m available. But I will go back to my work. I love my job and I don’t think it’s fair for them to keep holding on.
The tour has already attracted former NBC golf analyst David Feherty to join its livestream. He doesn’t even have a television contract yet. But Barkley, who has won wide appeal with his comedic, unedited and exuberant approach to basketball analysis but has also been criticized for sexist jokes about women, would be a huge boon to the fledgling golf tour. .
He has three years left on his contract with TNT, he said, and he would need a huge sum of money to defect.
“I’m probably going to lose all my sponsors and everything, so they’ll have to make it worth it,” he said. “But if they don’t, I’m still going to support those guys.”
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A new series. The launch of the new Saudi-funded LIV Golf series has resurfaced long-standing questions about the moral obligations of athletes and their desire to compete and earn money. Here’s what you need to know:
The reason he would lose sponsors is that golf-loving Barkley could face a backlash if he officially joins the LIV Tour in any capacity. He is one of many people criticized for joining, considering joining or even simply condoning the LIV Tour, a team golf concept funded by Prince Mohammed’s fund.
The prince is a sinister figure to many around the world, especially after US intelligence officials determined he approved of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist who was critical of the Saudi government.
Furthermore, the families of some of the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks believe that the Saudi government supported the terrorists before they acted. They planned to protest at the tournament on Friday. Barkley didn’t dismiss the pain and betrayal they feel, but he wondered why it was all focused on the golf tour.
When other companies that do business with the Saudis hand over their money to the fund, he said, it is only fair to criticize the gofers.
“I can sympathize with the 9/11 families,” Barkley said. “They have the right to express their opinions.”
Barkley also said it’s naïve to think Saudi Arabia is the only bad actor as a nation and cited the United States for sometimes having a blemished human rights record.
Barkley said every country was guilty of doing “terrible” things.
“It’s not like America has a great civil rights record, okay? If you want to be selectively outraged. I love America. It’s the greatest country in the world. But don’t act like we haven’t done our part and keep doing our part.
When he finished answering questions, Barkley joined a foursome that also included professional golfers Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian. Barkley being Barkley, there was a lot of laughs.
“Charles is such a nice, good-natured guy, and he doesn’t take anything too seriously,” Zakarian said. “And he’s a lot of fun to play with.”
On one hole, Barkley warned two people on an approaching golf cart to be alert for Zakarian’s impending shot. When it was Barkley’s turn to fire, he loudly noted the cart backing up to avoid a potential errant shot from him but didn’t move for Zakarian. His group burst out laughing.
“It’s okay,” Barkley told the driver. “I’m not sensitive.”
He also discussed basketball, noting in his typically irreverent way that Kevin Durant would stay with the Brooklyn Nets and make a terrific roster alongside Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons.
“They might have the best team in the world right now,” he said. “Kyrie is going to have something to prove because he knows if he goes out and is a jerk all year, he’s not going to get a big contract next year.”
As with the rebel golf tour, much of the sport is about money.