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Charles Barkley’s Stark Disdain for Crypto, His Best Money Advice and the Investment That Soured His Friendship with Michael Jordan

Cryptocurrency skeptics have been more vocal about their caution for investing in digital coins. 

One of the crypto cynics is NBA legend Charles Barkley who declared that he would get rid of anyone on his financial advisory team trying to convince him to diversify his portfolio with bitcoin or any of its other blockchain competitors.

“My people do not believe in crypto,” Barkley, who is worth an estimated $50 million, said in an interview with CNBC “Make It.” “I got a couple of financial guys. One of them said, ‘If I ever put you in crypto, you should fire me on the spot.”

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – NOVEMBER 20: Charles Barkley is seen in attendance during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Several NBA players have dabbled in cryptocurrency or have gone all-in by signing endorsement deals, collecting their salaries in bitcon, or doing commercial advertisements for well-known crypto trading platforms such as Coinbase. At the beginning of this year, Lakers star LeBron James’ nonprofit, the LeBron James Family Foundation (LJF), announced a multiyear partnership with Crypto.com to support Web3-related “educational and workforce development opportunities.” that help students and families build a “strong foundation in Web3.”

NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. experienced firsthand how betting big on bitcoin can take a bite out of your income. The Los Angeles Rams wide receiver decided to put his entire $750,000 salary into bitcoin when it surged to an all-time high of approximately $64,000 per coin last October. Unfortunately for Beckham, bitcoin has tanked since that high.   

Crypto remains a volatile asset with price swings that can make novice investors anxious and even put stock market mavens on edge. Between April and June, bitcoin nose-dived more than half of its value, from just over $45,000 to around $20,000. Other digital currencies have fallen even more. 

Barkley told CNBC that when deciding to invest in risky assets, it’s important to not get in over your head and to have an exit strategy.

“If you get lucky and hit a triple or a home run, that’s fine. But you really just trying to hit singles and doubles,” he said.

Despite crypto being a very young asset class that has lived up to its hype on several occasions, economists and stock market gurus are beginning to cite instances of market fluctuations as excess baggage that weighs on portfolios. Still, a plethora of startups and projects based around crypto are still attracting interest and investment. Just don’t count Barkley among the pack.

But not all things that are turning heads are worth paying attention to — especially if it means jeopardizing your financial well-being. 

“Learn to say no, and don’t feel bad about it,” advised Barkley on investing.

It seems Barkley would have advised NBA legend Michael Jordan not to invest millions into the Charlotte Bobcats — or at least he would’ve advised him to be more hands-off as an owner. In 2010 Jordan purchased the Bobcats (now the Hornets) for $275 million.

In 2012, Barkley called out Jordan’s investment during an interview on ESPN 1000’s “Waddle & Silvy” after the Bobcats ended a dismal season at 7-59. He criticized Jordan’s poor management as owner. The remark ended a long friendship between the two legendary ballers.

In an interview years later, Barkley reflected on his broken friendship.

“We’re not. And I take some responsibility for that. I criticized his — he was one of my best friends, and I definitely love him and miss him, to be honest with you,” he said.

He also clarified his original statement. “I said, ‘I don’t know if Michael’s ever going to be successful [running the Charlotte Hornets] because I don’t know if he got enough strong people around him.’”

As far as his own money, Barkley, who is know to enjoy gambling heavily, says he is not interested in leaving behind his wealth.

“Listen, everybody knows I like to gamble. I wanna be dead broke when I keel over. … I don’t want to leave all that money for my free-loading family. I’ve been taking care of them my whole life. I wanna be dead broke at my last breath,” said Barkley, who is known for controversial statements.

He admitted earlier this year to losing $30 million in gambling throughout his professional career. Just don’t count on him losing any to crypto.

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