For more than 20 years, Charles Barkley has been the face of the NBA on TV.
But that run could be coming to an end.
And Charles Barkley just dropped some strange retirement news that took everyone by surprise.
When Charles Barkley joined TNT’s NBA coverage, sports broadcasting changed forever.
Barkley, Kenny Smith, and host Ernie Johnson became the core of the one studio show – Inside the NBA – that became must-see TV.
Barkley’s free-wheeling style, Smith’s ability to go toe to toe trading verbal jabs with Barkley and Ernie Johnson’s willingness to play the straight man created a once in a generation studio team.
Normally, shows like Inside the NBA are the most skippable TV programming you can find.
Networks air these shows because they are contractually obligated.
But on many nights, the studio show eclipsed the game in terms of entertainment.
Now, it could all be coming to an end.
On a media conference call to promote TNT’s coverage of this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game, Barkley again reiterated his desire to retire from broadcasting when he reaches 60.
That would take Barkley to the end of his current TNT contract, which expires in two years when Barkley turns 61.
“When asked about his future by this writer during a Tuesday conference call, Barkley said that he plans to finish out the two years remaining on his deal and then step away. He will be 61 at the end of his contract and has previously spoken about his desire to leave TV at age 60 (in Tuesday’s call, he said he had not realized that his new contract would take him up to 61),” Sports Media Watch reports.
This isn’t the first time Barkley floated the idea of retiring from TNT.
“Barkley, who has been with TNT since 2000, has not-infrequently suggested that his time in TV may be numbered. As far back as his first year with TNT, he flirted with an NBA comeback with Michael Jordan’s Washington Wizards. For years, he discussed the possibility of going into politics. Over the past decade, he has expressed multiple times a desire to leave at the end of his contract, saying in 2012 and 2014 that he was leaning toward leaving TNT at the expiration of his deal in 2016,” Sports Media Watch added.
If Barkley retires from TNT at the end of the 2024 season, it will change the landscape of the NBA on TV.
The league will lose its most high-profile spokesman and commentator.
Fans usually don’t tune in to see what a broadcaster has to say.
When networks find one that moves the needle – John Madden and Charles Barkley are the only two that come to mind – they are invaluable.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any new developments in this ongoing story.