Charles Barkley on TNT in April 2023. Charles Barkley on TNT in April 2023.

In his since-2000 run as a NBA on TNT analyst, Charles Barkley has always been unafraid to be critical of what he’s covering. That’s included complaints about media personalities, college basketball, load management, which teams are on national TV, the quality of play-in matchups, and more. On Sunday, he picked an interesting new target…late tipoff times.

Ernie Johnson says “Charles, you have this befuddled look on your face,” and Barkley says “Yeah, I have a problem with the game starting at 10:30 (ET), I do have a problem with that. …Listen, man, we have the whole day to ourselves. We should be doing 1 o’clock, 3 o’clock. To have that last game at 10:30 p.m. Eastern, that’s just wrong, I don’t care what anyone says.”

Shaquille O’Neal later asks “Do you want some cheese with that whine, baby?” and Barkley says “I’m not whining. I’m excited for the game, I just don’t think it’s fair to have them playing that late. …We got to have some respect for the fans at some point. It ain’t fair for the people in Denver to be playing at 8:30 at night and they got to go to school tomorrow. So stop it.”

As Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch noted, there were seemingly some options for the NBA to have earlier games Sunday, particularly with a 1 p.m. start for Heat-Bucks on TNT:

This is not the first time late start times in sports have come under fire. In college football, Pac-12 coaches in particular have complained about those, and late start times for the MLB playoffs have been bashed by the likes of Chris “Mad Dog” Russo. And in the NBA in particular, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr criticized late starts for the NBA Finals last June, and those Finals took heat by comparison with the much-earlier-starting Stanley Cup Finals.

Start times are a complicated framework, with factors involved including maximizing viewership across the three major time zones of the continental U.S., balancing networks’ and local affiliates’ other programming needs (including the desire for TNT to have a back-to-back-to-back tripleheader here), and figuring out what works for in-arena fans/security/game-day experience. (The latter usually gets the least consideration, but it is still a factor.) There isn’t necessarily a perfect solution here. But it is notable to have Barkley adding criticisms of start times to his other criticisms of the early rounds of these playoffs to date.

[Awful Announcing on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.