“All this noise I hear about sports laundry and blood money – I think these people are so disingenuous in their feigned outrage. Everyone in sport took blood money.”
It’s not fake. And no, they haven’t.
But consider the source.
We’re talking about a man who once spat on an 8-year-old girl.
That phrase came Saturday morning from former 76ers star and current TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley over anyone criticizing his considerations of joining Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf as an analyst. Barkley told 94-WIP host and longtime pal Howard Eskin that he had dinner with LIV CEO Greg Norman on Wednesday, a meeting where Norman gauged Barkley’s interest in joining LIV.
No offer was made, Barkley said, and LIV would have to “blow me out of the water” to leave TNT and risk losing lucrative endorsement deals with companies like Subway, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Capital One. Barkley has three years and $30 million left on his TNT deal.
Barkley will play Wednesday’s Pro-Am ahead of the three-day show, which begins Thursday at Donald Trump’s Bedminster, NJ, course. He should show up a day early.
On Tuesday, Terry Strada, the chairman of 911familiesunited.org, will hold a press conference at a nearby library, according to the New York Post. Strada’s husband Tom was a bondbroker who was killed in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Towers. The World Trade Towers stood less than 50 miles from Trump Bedminster. Tom Strada was an avid golfer, and Terry Strada told the Post that the LIV Tour players who belittle the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks are “pouring like razors into the wound.”
Barkley, who is a member of the media, can attend Tuesday’s press conference. He can ask Terry Strada if her outrage is “fake”. Maybe.
Recently declassified documents link the Saudi government closer than ever to the 19 terrorists who hijacked and armed four planes on September 11, 2001. These attacks killed 2,977 civilians, soldiers and first responders and helped spark wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have cost nearly 7,000 more American lives.
Perhaps, after attending Tuesday’s press conference, Charles could visit Ground Zero in Manhattan near Shanksville, Pennsylvania to see the 9/11 memorial there before reaching Washington, DC where this memorial commemorates 184 deaths in the Pentagon remembered.
Maybe then he doesn’t think all this outrage is so “wrong”.
Same-sex sexual activity remains illegal in Saudi Arabia, where five gay men were reportedly beheaded in 2019 after their confessions to other crimes were extracted through torture. Then the Saudis pinned the body and head of a prisoner to a post in a public square.
Why is this important at this moment? Because at a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada last week, Barkley famously proclaimed his “love” for gay and transgender people, saying, “If someone gives you something [expletive]tell them Charles said, ‘[expletive] She!’ ”
Presumably, this also includes the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose government adheres to Sharia law and can therefore punish homosexuality with the death penalty. The $2 billion LIV budget comes from the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, which Salman heads.
Charles tells his potential new boss to leave [expletive] even.
This is of course a very Charles thing. But it became tragic for the last media member to try.
According to a US intelligence report, the Saudis kidnapped, killed and dismembered expatriate journalist Jamal Kashoggi, who was then exiled to the United States, at the Saudi embassy in Turkey in 2018 – an operation Salman approved.
LIV Golf wanting Barkley at all is the most damning proof yet that the venture – eight guaranteed-payout events played largely by former players who joined the league after receiving nine-figure bonuses – is nothing more than a gambit Saudi Arabia’s government is trying to clean up its sordid history of human rights abuses that continues to this day.
Barkley is an avid golfer, not a former professional golfer and certainly not a golf expert. His performances on The Match shows were sub-par, and these included only four players and precious little decent golf. It’s like a breakaway basketball league that hires Johnny Miller to play Reggie Miller.
By the way, Barkley is not particularly analytical in his job. He offers generalizations about the game, praises a few insults, makes a few predictions, and says crazy stuff. He’s an easy gun. That’s its charm and that’s its value.
Remember, this is a self-confessed die-hard gamer who spat on an 8-year-old girl while aiming for a heckler (also nasty) in 1991; who snatched a 5ft 2, 110lb man from the grip of a police officer and threw him through a bar window in 1997; and the 2019 reporter Alexi McCammond told reporter Alexi McCammond, “I don’t hit women, but if I did I would hit you,” and then, when she flinched, told her she “couldn’t take a joke.” ”
Those were just Chuck’s greatest hits. Some of the B-sides were even more entertaining.
Barkley was always right about one thing, as he proclaimed in his 1993 Nike commercial: He’s not a role model. At least not a good one.
Still, all of these incidents made Barkley more marketable. He’s not perfect, and most of the time he’s not even right, but he’s fearless and he’s authentic. He can be neither fearless nor authentic for a company backed by a theocratic government that spits on the concept of free speech.
The Saudis might get Barkley, but they will get Barkley, censored. Barkley, muzzled. Barkley Lite.
All of which makes him a worthless Barkley.
There might be a few curious onlookers at first, but no one will tune in to hear Barkley recite scripts about an activity he knows precious little about.
It didn’t work last time.
Do you remember Dennis Miller and Monday Night Football?
If the “feigned outrage” comment wasn’t enough to discredit Barkley, the comparison he cited with Eskin should complete the task:
“If you worked for the Cleveland Indians, you took blood money. If you worked for the Washington Redskins, you took blood money.”
No, just no.
The Cleveland Indians and the Washington Redskins never murdered or dismembered Indians. Additionally, Cleveland and Washington recently changed their racist names and logos to Guardians and Commanders, respectively.
What about other flimsy regimes? Let’s talk about the big one.
Well, there’s no real comparison between the relationship between the NBA and its players and China. China’s human rights record may be worse than the Saudis’, but unless we impose state-sanctioned embargoes on China and Saudi Arabia — simply refusing to buy their products, refusing to interact with their economies, and maybe even cutting off immigration — they’ll have to Knowing the difference between dealing with a bad actor and being used as a puppet to justify bad actions in the past, present and future.
This is sports washing.
Jim Thome in Cleveland and Donovan McNabb in Washington have never attempted to clean up the offensive nicknames of Native Americans and Redskins. But that’s what Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau get paid for.
And soon, it seems, Sir Charles Barkley will do the same.
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