Sports | July 20, 2022 11:15 am

LIV Golf May Ruin TNT’s “Inside the NBA” By Poaching Charles Barkley

Nothing is imminent, but the 59-year-old broadcaster is planning to meet with Greg Norman's upstart series

Charles Barkley watches his drive at the ACC Golf Championship.
Charles Barkley could be the latest defector to the LIV Golf Series.
David Calvert/Getty for American Century Investments

LIV Golf has already made a lot of enemies amongst golf traditionalists and those who don’t believe that business should be conducted with Saudi Arabia (for many obvious reasons), but the upstart series is poised to create beef with an entirely new group of people if it follows through with a rumored hire of a popular media member: Charles Barkley.

Barkley, the star of TNT’s award-winning Inside the NBA broadcast, loves golf (even if he is not good at playing it) and is reportedly going to meet with LIV Golf about a potential broadcasting role with the series.

“I’m gonna meet with LIV,” Barkley told The Next Round. “To be always transparent and honest, they called me and asked me if I’d meet with them. I said yes. Nothing’s imminent. I actually don’t know everything they want from me or what they technically want me to do. But you have to always look at every opportunity that’s available. I’m gonna 100% meet with LIV.”

The 59-year-old meeting with the Greg Norman-fronted league, given the amount of money it has been handing out, is completely understandable. But if Barkley actually jumps ship and leaves TNT’s studio team of Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith to fend for themselves, even if Draymond Green comes aboard, it’ll be both a disappointment and a disaster.

It also could potentially be pretty messy as Barkley’s contract makes him exclusive to TNT and his deal doesn’t expire until the end of the NBA’s 2024-2025 season, according to Front Office Sports. However, if enough money is on the line and LIV has good lawyers, Barkley could be willing to go to the mat with his former employer. Should that happen, Barkley’s endorsement deals with companies like Subway and Capital One would also be on the line — and he knows it.

“He may lose those endorsements,” former ESPNer Dan Patrick said after speaking with Barkley. “A lot of these players that joined the LIV Tour lost endorsements. Charles knows that he may lose those. Charles knows he may have to leave TNT. That would be bad for everybody.”

If Barkley does end up leaving TNT for LIV, he’d be following in the cleatsteps of ex-NBC Sports golf commentator David Feherty, who just ditched his former employer to serve as an analyst on 8-to-10 LIV Golf tournaments each year.

“Landing the NBA legend as its new media face would go a long way toward dispelling LIV’s lousy brand image — not to mention landing a U.S. TV deal,” per FOS. “LIV just lured funnyman golf commentator David Feherty away from NBC Sports. If LIV offers Charles Barkley anywhere near the $90 million it’s reportedly throwing at British Open champ Cameron Smith, it would be hard for him not to say yes — and for TNT to say no.”

Let’s hope, for multiple reasons, it doesn’t come to that.