Most people probably could have predicted during his playing days that Charles Barkley might have a successful future in broadcasting in front of him, quotable as he always was. But few people probably envisioned him being this successful, helping form the backbone of one of the most successful sports studio shows of all time, TNT’s Inside the NBA. Inside the NBA is such a rousing success that even when Barkley screws up, it’s gold. The show’s won multiple Emmys. It’s beloved by basketball fans everywhere Barkley’s said before that getting paid to talk about basketball feels like stealing.
So why’s Barkley sound so ready to give it all up?
He sure sounded that way in a recent interview with SI’s Richard Deitsch, anyway. Maybe Barkley’s got a cushy gig going, but even that can get stale after long enough doing it:
“I love my job. I love the people I work with. And I’m going to try to do things to keep me engaged. But I have four years left on my current deal and to be honest with you, it’s going to be a struggle for me to make it for the whole four years. I really don’t know how much longer I’m going to do this. I need something more, or something else to do to be honest with you.”
We called this terrible news in the headline, and there’s no question the world of NBA coverage is livelier with Barkley as a part of it, but in truth, if he’s tired of doing it, better to walk away (even if it’s just temporary) than hang on too long. And much as he’d be missed on Inside the NBA, we’re pretty curious as to what the next step for Barkley might entail. (As long as he doesn’t have gubernatorial ambitions again. He couldn’t fully be himself in politics.)
Truth be told, though, everything we’re envisioning for Barkley’s future still involves broadcasting. Surely Barkley wouldn’t be done with TV even if he decided his time at Inside the NBA had run its course. He’d be tailor made for the occasional Red Eye appearance. And what entertainment-focused show wouldn’t want him to come on every so often and just say whatever he felt like about the movies/TV shows/music of the moment? If that’s what’s in store for a post-TNT Barkley, suddenly we don’t feel so sad about his run potentially ending.
Getty photo, by Brett Deering