NBA Hall of Famer admits to gambling losses
"I like to gamble and I'm not going to quit," Barkley told the cable network. "I've just got to get it under control."
A 16-year veteran known now for his controversial statements as well as his honest basketball analysis as a commentator on TNT, Barkley said that he should have curbed his wagers earlier so that his losses wouldn't be so substantial.
"When I gamble, I should be playing $1,000 a hand instead of $20,000 a hand, because if I played for $1,000 a hand I probably could lose $50,000 to $100,000 instead of millions of dollars," Barkley said. "And I've got to reach a happy medium because I've told all of the people in my life that first and foremost it's my money."
Barkley is not apologetic about his gambling problem and admits that because he can afford to do it, he will do it.
"My agent has really worked with me to try to get it where I can go and gamble and have fun," Barkley said. "That's easier said than done. Do I have a gambling problem? Yeah, I do have a gambling problem. But I don't consider it a problem because I can afford to gamble."
The 1993 NBA Most Valuable Player did not comment or admit to gambling on games he participated in.
The announcement by Barkley is the second admission by a professional athlete this week. Pro golfer John Daly wrote in his autobiography that he has lost between an estimated $50 and $60 million over 12 years of gambling.
This is not the first time Barkley has spoken about gambling in the public realm. In 2002, Barkley made a "bet" with fellow TNT analyst Kenny Smith that he would kiss his rear on TV if a certain player scored more than 19 points in a game they were broadcasting. Smith agreed to the terms, the player in question scored 20 points, and Barkley was on the losing end.
"I make people pay their debts," Smith said. "Charles will pay his debt to society, no question about it. He will pay his debt, and it will be on camera.
"Charles goes to Las Vegas a lot. In Vegas, you can't leave the table until you pay your debts."
As recently as 2004, Barkley had been spotted gambling in Las Vegas. He is a part of several charity golf tournaments in the desert city and has even been captured in an online video shot with a camera phone partying it up with fellow NBA legend Michael Jordan at a nightclub inside the reknown Bellagio Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas strip.
Barkley averaged 22.1 points and almost 12 rebounds per game over a career that was spent in Philadelphia, Phoenix and Houston. He was also a part of the United States' Olympic Men's Basketball team that won the gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.