Charles Barkley announces he will retire from broadcasting after 2024-25 season

NBA

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GLENDALE, ARIZONA - APRIL 06: TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley on air before the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game between the Purdue Boilermakers and the North Carolina State Wolfpack at State Farm Stadium on April 06, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Charles Barkley isn’t going to cover basketball anywhere but TNT. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Longtime TNT broadcaster Charles Barkley dropped a stunning announcement after Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday, revealing he would retire from television after the 2024-25 NBA season.

Barkley made the announcement with little warning and plenty of emotion, explaining that he has discussed leaving TNT for other networks due to Warner Bros. Discovery’s likely loss of NBA rights after next year, but ultimately decided he was ready to give up the microphone after one last year.

Barkley’s explanation:

“There’s been a lot of noise around our network the last few months. I just want to say, I talked to all the other networks, but I ain’t going nowhere other than TNT. But I have made the decision myself, no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television.

“I just want to say thank you to my NBA family. You guys have been great to me, my heart is full with joy and gratitude, but I’m going to pass the baton at the end of next year. I hope the NBA stays with TNT … 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 going to retire after 25 years.

Next season was already set to be the end of an era at TNT, with the network still on the verge of losing its NBA package to NBC. TNT could still theoretically try to match NBC’s bid or negotiate a smaller deal with the league, but all indications from WBD head David Zaslav are that the network will instead pursue cheaper deals in other sports, such as college football and tennis.

Barkley has been unhappy with the entire process and has made his displeasure known, describing his company’s leaders as “clowns” and decrying what the change will mean for his “Inside the NBA” show. He reportedly had the right to opt out of his deal with TNT should the network lose its NBA rights and has gone as far as suggesting his production company could take over “Inside the NBA.”

Instead, he will retire, ending a career that has earned him just as many, if not more, fans than his Hall of Fame playing career with the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets.

Barkley’s career at TNT goes back to 2000, the season after he retired as a player. His run as a broadcaster included four Sports Emmys and no shortage of appearances elsewhere, most notably with his ill-fated “King Charles” show on CNN alongside Gayle King.

In the constantly shifting landscape of sports media, Barkley is a unique figure. Above all, he is known for his blunt honesty. If a player plays badly, he says they played badly. If he doesn’t like a coach’s decision, he says he didn’t like the decision. If he is bothered by current events, he speaks out. There is no massaging of the truth, no attempt to save egos.

Sometimes that bluntness got Barkley in trouble, but if often made him one of the entertaining personalities on television, further elevated by an incredible chemistry with “Inside the NBA” co-hosts Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal. The quartet often created a feeling you were just watching four knowledgable friends joking around and they were beloved as a result.

Barkley said he wants to pass the baton, but there’s no way a person can replicate what he does on television. There may be someone out there who can draw in the amount of viewers Barkley attracted in some other way, but there is only one Charles Barkley.

On the bright side, he will soon have plenty more time to further improve his golf game.

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