The Story Behind Barkley’s Sour Relationship With His Ex-Agent
Earlier today, Charles Barkley said something he absolutely shouldn't have said given the current climate in this country (read: gun violence). During a phone interview on "The Dan Patrick Show," Barkley got on the subject of his first agent, Lance Luchnick, saying he would "blow his brains out" if the two ever crossed paths.
"You don't mean you would shoot him," Patrick responded, giving Barkley a chance to clarify he was being hyperbolic.
"If I had a gun I would," Barkley said. Well then...
So what exactly happened between these two that has Charles Barkley so angry over 25 years after their professional relationship ended? According to Barkley, Luchnick flatout stole money from him. According to Luchnick -- who played the role of agent and manager -- it's a big misunderstanding because he was honest the entire time.
Going by this direct quote from a 1990 Philadelphia Daily News article about their troubles, Luchnick wasn't always the villain.
"Charles and I have a special relationship that goes further than business. His family loves me, my family loves him. This situation surprises me, because he never said a word (about any problems) to me. Any time I do anything involving his money, his mother and grandmother always know what it is, from A to Z. I want Charles to know, I want him to sit down with me and my accountant, Joe Wahlberg . . . I don't have any objections."
Hey, Luchnick doesn't seem that bad! He actually seems like a really nice guy, right? In fact, as it turns out, it was this kind of outward positivity that drew Barkley to Luchnick in the first place. Of course, Chuck now realizes Luchnick's affable disposition wasn't a great reason to give him the keys to his bank account. Whether Luchnick is a two-faced swindler or just a really loveable idiot who sucks at managing money is anyone's guess.
[ESPN] Early in Charles Barkley's basketball career, he was referred to as "The Round Mound of Rebound." Unfortunately, Sir Charles' bank account did not swell along with his belly. Barkley selected the wrong agent and financial adviser -- in his case, he hired one person to manage both functions.
Barkley on why he selected his first agent: "Lance [Luchnick] was the only agent who hadn't given me money while I was in school. When it came down to my final selection, [not offering money] worked in his favor. I thought he had been smart enough to know that I couldn't be bribed ... I chose him for the worst reason anybody could choose an agent -- write this down, kids -- because he was a good guy."
Luchnick invested Barkley's money in speculative deals that did not pan out. Barkley lost his original investment, but his problems did not end there. As Barkley notes, "When the investment goes bad, and everyone else declares bankruptcy, they keep coming after you because you're still earning money." Luchnick declared bankruptcy and Barkley won a $5-million judgment -- which is hard to collect from someone with no money.
The variables in each of their stories paint a picture that neither is being entirely forthcoming (as is often the case when millions of dollars disappear). An independent arbitrator hired by the NBA Players Association found that Luchnick over-charged Barkley, which isn't quite as egregious as he made it out to be on "The Dan Patrick Show," but the NBAPA did suspend Luchnick as a result, which was a first. Clearly he didn't do a great job keeping Barkley's wealth from drying up, but it's not like he just took the money and ran. He was investing it, albeit in things that didn't yield profits, and was never arrested for any wrongdoing.
"Lance was putting my money, my hard-earned money, into high-risk, speculative ventures that to this day haven't earned me one dime," Barkley said in his 1993 biography. That's not stealing.
A judge ruled in Barkley's favor, ordering Luchnick to pay $5 million in restitution. Unfortunately, that money was never collected because Luchnick declared for bankruptcy (but was never disbarred or made to cease representing professional athletes).
"I'm 21 years old and I'm thinking, 'Great. This guy is going to pay my bills and invest the rest,"' Barkley said in a 2005 interview with Jackie MacMullan. "He's telling me, 'You put in $2 million and you'll get back 10.' Sounds perfect, doesn't it? Only when the investment goes bad, and everyone else declares bankruptcy, they keep coming after you because you're still earning money."
Five million dollars is a lot of money, Chuck, but it's not worth tempting fate by saying you're going to shoot someone over it on TV and radio. You might wanna let this one slide, bud. You're doing fine now. Take a breath. It's water under the bridge.
Be the first to know
Want FREE Fantasy and Gaming Advice and Savings Delivered to your Inbox? Sign up for our Newsletter.