STATELINE, Nevada — Charles Barkley is done trying to convince the public he is a good golfer.
He knows he won’t win the celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe this summer, but he is pretty sure he won’t finish last.
Barkley spoke to the media this week during a press conference for the American Century Championship Celebrity Golf Tournament, July 6-10 at Edgewood Tahoe.
Barkley is listed at 7,500-1 odds to win, but the odds for him to finish in the top 70, in the 90-person tournament, are not quite as long. Caesars Sportsbook has the former NBA star and current TV analyst listed at 5-1 to finish in the top 70.
Barkley said he bet $100,000 on himself to finish in the top 70 last year in the ACC, before finding out people are not allowed to bet on themselves. His bet was refunded.
He has a workaround this year. He’ll have a friend make the bet for him.
“Like, halfway through the second day, when they realized, like, this dude might come in the top 70, they came with that bogus rule about you can’t bet on yourself,” Barkley said. “It doesn’t make sense. I bet on me to win. I didn’t bet that I was going to come out of the top 70. I bet I was going to come in the top 70.
“Hey, gambling is gambling. I don’t want to hear all the BS about betting on yourself and stuff.”
Barkley also weighed in on the NBA Finals and several more topics on Wednesday, before the Celtics beat the Warriors, 116-100 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
Barkley said when he played, the fans in Oakland, the Warriors’ previous home before moving across the Bay to San Francisco, were among the best in the league.
“That’s one of the most fond places I’ve ever played a basketball game, when the Warriors were in Oakland. These San Francisco fans are annoying, to be honest with you. But they’re great fans,” he said.
“But let me tell you something. What has happened to that city is a travesty and disgrace. I know TNT is cheap and they put us in the cheapest hotels in the history of civilization. But all the homelessness and crime you’ve got going down in San Francisco, man, that cannot happen. They’ve need to clean that up.”
Barkley said he has bodyguards when he is out walking around cities.
“They’re walking around with their head on a swivel. And I always tell them, ‘Hey, shoot ’em. I’ll get you out of jail. If anybody comes near us we don’t like, just shoot them, I’ll get you out of jail,’” he said.
Barkley is not a fan of the NIL (name, image, likeness) deals college athletes can sign to make money while playing sports.
He also dislikes the transfer portal, which allows college athletes to change schools every year.
“I hate NIL because, No. 1, I think it’s going to have tremendous resentment among teammates. They’re going to be comparing who makes the most,” he said. “The transfer portal is going to be, they’re going to be cherry picking guys every single year now, like, how much are they paying you at this school? We need to give you more to come here.”
He said the NCAA is at fault for overly enforcing minor rules infractions in past years, such as coaches taking payers out to eat.
“The NCAA has nobody to blame but themselves because they’ve been boneheads forever. Suspending guys for getting a free meal, suspending guys for getting an extra pair of sneakers and stupid stuff like that. And now you’ve got the toothpaste out of the tube where every kid is going to the highest bidder,” he said. “These little schools, they got no chance going forward. They’ve got zero chance, because they’re not going to be able to pay what these big schools are going to pay.”
He also dislikes politicians and said they should be more concerned about gun and abortion laws than the NIL.
In Texas, legislators are discussing whether high school athletes should be allowed to also get NIL deals, like college athletes.
“Instead of passing sensible gun resolutions, they’re out here worrying about the NIL. Are you kidding me? They’re out here talking about abortion in 2022. They won’t pass not one single (law) making it hard to get an assault weapon, but they’re worried about the NIL? And they want to talk about abortion in 2022? That’s only because we’re just fools, the public,” he said.
“They know they’ve just got to say a couple of words to get your vote. They throw the word ‘conservative,’ ‘liberal,’ they throw it around. Those words should be outlawed, liberal, conservative. What are you actually going to do? We’ve got to realize these politicians, both parties, both parties are full of s***.”
Barkley, who has become the unofficial ambassador of the celebrity golf tournament, has played in 27 of the 33 tournaments held at Edgewood Tahoe and says it is the first thing he puts on his calendar every year.
He said that other than a few celebrities who take it seriously, most of them are there to have fun and interact with the fans.
He recalled that when he first started playing in the celebrity golf tournament, it was a much different field, with far fewer celebrities.
“When we started 27 years ago, that was like 10 stars and 75 backup people,” he said.
Barkley said he has a side bet with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers about his hair.
If Barkley has a better score in the ACC this July, he gets to cut off Rodgers’ man-bun.
“Just because you’re too cheap to cut your hair, you can’t make it a style,” Barkley said. “Man, here’s $25. Go down to Fantastic Sam’s and get that thing cut off the back of your head. Just because you don’t cut your hair, that’s not a style. But Aaron’s a much better golfer than me, but I’ll be happy to give a donation to his charity.”
Barkley does not hold back questioning the rosters of teams who struggle every season, especially the Sacramento Kings, who he said need a lot of help, as the New York Knicks.
“You know, they’re not close. They’re not close at all,” he said of the Knicks. “They probably only have two to three guys who are actually NBA starters. So the number one thing they’ve got to do is get some talent.”
He said the Kings should be embarrassed, after having top draft picks every season.
He said Kings fans are among the best in the league, though.
“It’s frustrating because I want to see them do good. I used to look forward to going to Sacramento. That fan base, especially back in Arco, they had a tremendous fan base. It was a hostile, great environment. They loved their team. So I always kind of want to see them do good,” he said. “But I don’t know what the hell happened out there. They traded their best player, (Tyrese) Haliburton. And I’m a big (Domantas) Sabonis fan. So I have zero idea what happened to De’Aaron Fox. I thought three years ago he was going to be a perennial All-Star.”
“You can’t have that many lottery picks year after year after year and suck. That’s impossible. At some point you’re like I’ve got to have a good player here or there.”
Jim Krajewski covers high school and youth sports for the Reno Gazette Journal. Follow him on Twitter @RGJPreps. Support his work by subscribing to RGJ.com.