Charles Barkley will retire from NBA broadcasting after next season

Warner Bros. Discovery is engaged in ongoing negotiations with the NBA for media rights, with TNT commentator Charles Barkley announcing Friday that he plans to retire from television broadcasting in 2025.

Barkley, 61, who has gone from Hall of Fame forward to widely respected broadcaster, has been a mainstay on TNT since his retirement from the NBA in 2000. Blending quick wit, sharp humor and fearless criticism, Barkley has teamed with host Ernie Johnson and commentators Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith on the popular and influential “Inside the NBA” show.

The NBA is in talks with Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, Amazon and NBC over its next media rights deal, which would begin after the 2024-25 season. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said this month that negotiations are ongoing, but multiple reports have indicated that Warner Bros. Discovery, TNT’s parent company, could lose its NBA rights for the first time since 1988.

“There’s been a lot of noise about our network over the last few months,” Barkley said. “I just want to say this: I’ve talked to every other network, but I’m not going anywhere else but TNT. But I’ve made a decision on my own: No matter what happens, next year will be my last year on television. I just want to say thank you to my NBA family. You guys have done a great job for me. My heart is full of joy and gratitude. But I’m going to hand over the baton at the end of next year. I hope the NBA stays with TNT. But, personally, I wanted you guys to hear from me.”

Barkley, who has been hinting at the possibility of retirement for years, made the announcement on the NBA TV postgame show following the Dallas Mavericks’ 122-84 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

“I’m not going to do any more interviews,” he said. “Don’t call me. I’m not going to talk about this again. I wanted to let my TNT and NBA TV family know that I’m not going to another network. I’m going to turn over my responsibility to Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or Steve. [Smith],

TNT Sports A statement said Saturday said Barkley “is and will always be a beloved member of the TNT Sports family,” and that the network “looks forward to another great ‘NBA on TNT’ season and further discussions on our future plans with him.”

Barkley signed a contract extension with TNT through 2022 that gave him the opportunity to leave the network if it was unable to renew its media rights agreement with the NBA. As media rights negotiations have dragged on for months, Barkley has repeatedly criticized TNT’s leadership and expressed his support for the network’s rank-and-file employees, who are still in limbo.

“I want to say this because you guys are my family,” Barkley said. “I really love TNT, everyone who works here and NBA television. You guys have been great to me for 24 years. I just want to say thank you to my whole NBA family. I love you guys.”

Johnson, 67, who joined Turner Sports in 1989, said last month that he would not leave TNT even if the network lost its NBA rights.

Silver said on June 6 that negotiations over media rights are “incredibly complex” and that league staff are “literally working around the clock” to finalize new agreements.

“It’s complicated for a number of reasons,” Silver said. “One reason is the advent of new platforms, particularly streaming, and the interest of streaming companies, and then traditional media companies are also taking our games to streaming platforms. It gets complicated with multiple partners looking for the same assets. In many cases, it’s figuring out the right way to balance those games going to different partners. Then at the end, we do long-term deals. We think that’s good for the stability of the league, but it does mean that to a certain extent you’re trying to predict the future, which of course is impossible.”

The commissioner said “Inside the NBA” has played a “special” role in the league’s community and that he enjoys “the close relationship I have with everyone involved with that show.”

“On the one hand, from the league’s perspective, it’s great to be liked and wanted and to have many fans,” Silver said. “At the same time, it makes me uncomfortable that it’s zero sum, that at the end of the day there’s only going to be so many television packages, there’s only going to be so many Finals games and playoff games and regular season games to distribute.

“I would like to say directly to the people who seem to be most affected right now, the people at Turner Sports, I apologize that this has been a long process, because I know they are dedicated to their work. I know people who work in this industry. It’s a big part of their identity and their families’, and nobody likes that uncertainty. I think it’s the responsibility of the league office to get these negotiations done and finalized as quickly as possible.”

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