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Charles Barkley about to become a Saudi Golf analyst?

Sounds like a phony headline, doesn't it? I bet golf will be very entertaining over there. I'd watch!

Charles Barkley: Please Don’t Leave the NBA for LIV Golf

A beloved broadcaster awaits an offer he can’t refuse

Since retiring as a player, Charles Barkley has had a successful career as an NBA analyst for

Jason Gay. WSJ

Dear Charles Barkley:

Hi! Allow me to introduce myself. You, Charles Barkley, are the beloved NBA Hall of Famer who redefined the power forward position and segued into a wildly successful career in television.

I, meanwhile, am a blubbering sports columnist for a financial newspaper who averaged 0.4 point for my high school junior varsity and routinely loses at H-O-R-S-E to my 7-year-old daughter.

Despite my flimsy résumé, I would like to be heard on the topic of you potentially signing on to the newfangled LIV Golf tour as an analyst.

You’ve been talking a lot about it: How you’re intrigued by the LIV opportunity; how you recently met with the LIV maestro Greg Norman; and, most ominously, how it’s possible you might have to give up your seat on Turner’s Emmy-winning show, “Inside the NBA,” should you sign with the upstart golf outfit.

You’ve been characteristically candid about LIV’s main appeal: money. The new LIV golfers have had a hard time saying it, but Charles Barkley doesn’t. This comes down to the possibility of a spectacular payday, doesn’t it?

And you’ve surely heard the case against LIV: that this league, bankrolled by the Saudi sovereign-wealth fund, is effectively sportswashing a regime widely condemned for its record on human rights, and its alleged involvement in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This isn’t minor stuff, and it has stopped others from signing on.

Still, there’s an entirely separate reason for you to pass on LIV, and I’d like to get into it here.

Charles: You’re the best at what you do. You really are. You’re the most likable, most effortlessly watchable personality on a sports broadcast in the U.S., and it isn’t really close. There’s never been anyone like you. You’re Howard Cosell, if people adored him.

With your colleagues Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal, you have turned the most banal space in sports programming—the pregame, halftime, and postgame show—into breezy, must-watch television. “Inside the NBA” is imitated, but never duplicated. Your competition, ESPN, has launched 17,000 pregame shows in the past 10 years, with talented people, and all of them can be described thusly: “Not ‘Inside the NBA.’”

It’s a fab life, Charles. You might not obsess about NBA minutiae (if you can name five guys on the Orlando Magic, I’ll buy you a new putter) but you’re the standard for freewheeling sports commentary. In an era when sports shows are stiffly choreographed—or worse, playing to the cheap seats of social media—“Inside the NBA” feels like eavesdropping. You say on TV what others only say in private. You’re not supposed to talk like that on TV! But you do.

(FWIW I can’t name five guys on the Orlando Magic, either. Maybe not three.)

There’s nobody quite like you. You’re not afraid to call out today’s players, but you get away with it, because you can take criticism yourself. No one laughs more at Charles than Charles. You might be the most self-deprecating Hall of Famer ever, and it makes your show truly one of a kind.

Golf? What do you want with golf? I say this as someone with a tee time in a few hours, where I will hit Titleists into trees: golf is an anxiety attack masquerading as a sport. It likes its characters to be purposefully dull, as steam-pressed with their words as they are with their pants. You’re going to get bored, fast.

You know how you feel about a weeknight game in Sacramento? At one of these nondescript golf tournaments, watching the 27th and 58th best players in the world putt for 12th place at the Leafy Elm Invitational, you’re going to be crying for a weeknight game in Sacramento.

As for LIV wanting to shake up golf with a new approach to broadcasting: blah, blah, blah, heard that a million times. Audiences are a lot less experimental than programmers sometimes think. Dennis Miller in “Monday Night Football,” etc…it didn’t last. Golf isn’t hip. Golf is golf.

You’ve already got the best job in sports TV. If you’re simply taking this LIV gossip out for a spin to pull a few more dollars from Turner, fine. You deserve it. You must look at these loony salaries for NFL chatterboxes like Troy Aikman and Tony Romo—to say nothing of the coming haul for Tom Brady—and think: none of those guys do what I do. And you’re right! They don’t. Basketball fans literally hang around for your show because they want to know what sort of crazy thing you might say.

What you’ve built, no one’s built. It’s worth protecting and burnishing. If you want to retire young and give your chair to Draymond Green, if you want to stay another 20 years, we will take it. But please: Don’t leave us for golf, no matter the check. Even if Turner lets you do both, say thanks but no thanks. You’ve made something great. You’re perfect where you are.

P.S.: Should the Knicks trade for Donovan Mitchell?

P.P.S.: What is Shaq really like?

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