It’s going to be an interesting week for the round mound of rebound… then again maybe with this weight loss thing that nickname may have to be adjusted. Anyways, TNT’s Charles Barkley takes his talents this week outside the Inside the NBA studio. First, he’ll join Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller for a three man booth on the call for Heat/Hawks. According to SMW, it’s the first time Barkley has been in the announcing booth since March 2010.
This definitely seems like a one time appearance in the broadcast booth with TNT having a game in Atlanta where the Turner studio is based. But it’s worth watching if TNT keeps tinkering with the analyst spot there because Reggie Miller is last on the totem pole of NBA personalities working with Turner for basketball fans. Chris Webber will fill Barkley’s slot in the studio alongside Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Shaq. C-Web is one of the most underrated analysts on television, so hopefully TNT will give him more airtime throughout the season.
After his broadcast booth cameo on Thursday, Barkley then goes to New York to host Saturday Night Live for the third time. Barkley last hosted SNL in the first week of 2010. I wish I could tell you whether Saturday Night Live is still funny or not, but I stopped watching around the same time I stopped watching new episodes of the Simpsons. I’m willing to bet that Sir Charles is funnier than at least half the cast at the moment.
Barkley’s high profile week got me thinking about a bigger picture question. Has any athlete been more successful in transitioning from a playing career to a media career? CSNPhilly says Barkley’s third hosting appearance is a record for an athlete and the last two have come well into his TNT career. That’s an impressive line to have on your resume. John Madden built a media empire as the top NFL analyst for decades, but that came after being head coach of the Raiders. Many former great players are terrible on television while others stick around too long and have the public turn on them (see Morgan, Joe and McCarver, Tim). There are better pure analysts, but nobody is funnier and has more widespread crossover appeal than Charles Barkley. That may change in the future though… as long as Jay Bilas keeps tweeting Young Jeezy lyrics.