Charles Barkley says he will retire from broadcasting after the 2024-25 NBA season – KION546

CNN

By Homero De la Fuente, CNN

(CNN) — Charles Barkley, the basketball Hall of Famer whose second career as a blunt, no-BS commentator on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” may have overshadowed the heights he reached as a superstar player, announced Friday that next year will be his last on TV.

“I’m not going anywhere but TNT. But I’ve decided that no matter what happens, next year will be my last year on television,” Barkley said on NBATV after the Dallas Mavericks’ Game 4 victory over the Boston Celtics. “And I just want to thank my NBA family. You’ve been great to me. My heart is full of joy and gratitude.”

Barkley’s departure coincides with Warner Bros. Discovery’s (WBD) media rights deal with the NBA expires after next season. WBD, CNN’s parent company, could extend its deal, but NBC and Amazon have reportedly outbid WBD, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A new agreement on which networks or platforms can get NBA rights, including a separate package likely to continue with ESPN, will likely be announced in the coming weeks.

“I hope the NBA stays with TNT, but for me personally, I wanted you to hear it from me,” Barkley continued. “I wanted to tell my NBATV and TNT family that I’m not going to another network, but I’m going to pass the baton to Jamal Crawford or Vince Carter or you Steve (Smith).”

“But next year I’m just retiring after 25 years, and I just wanted to thank you. And I wanted you to hear it from me first.”

After a Hall of Fame career as a player, Barkley joined TNT’s award-winning studio show “Inside the NBA” in 2000 as an analyst.

Barkley won two Olympic gold medals, made 11 All-Star teams, won the MVP award in 1993 and was named to the NBA’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams. He was among the best players never to win a championship, a failure that he said haunted him throughout his career.

But his post-career transition to become one of the most beloved and respected sports broadcasters of a generation ultimately overshadowed his time on the field.

It was an unlikely transformation. With a thick Alabama accent and a tendency to shoot from the hip, Barkley is not your typical sports analyst. But his free-spirited, off-the-cuff attitude has made him a TV watcher and a viral sensation, even before social media.

In his nearly two and a half decades with the network, Barkley has received four Sports Emmys and has been inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Barkley had briefly hinted at a possible move into politics, expressing interest in becoming governor of Alabama. But he has said he was not inspired by the major political forces in the United States.

“I consider myself an independent because I hate the words Republican, Democratic, Conservative and Liberal,” he said. “I think you could be one of those things, but you don’t think that way about every subject.

“I really thought hard about running for governor, but then I realized that I don’t think any of these parties really care about people, and that’s what America is: people.”

While the future of the NBA on TNT remains uncertain, WBD announced Tuesday a 10-year deal to become the new U.S. home for the French Open tennis tournament starting in 2025.

Under the “new, expanded deal,” all approximately 900 matches will be broadcast live on the streaming platform Max, with featured matches on TNT and TBS and a new rotating show on truTV. WBD has an existing relationship with Roland Garros since it began broadcasting the tennis tournament across Europe on Eurosport since 1989.

The CNN Wire
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CNN’s Ray Sanchez, David Goldman, Jordan Valinsky, Ben Church and Chris Wallace contributed to this report.