Charles Barkley on Inside the NBA Photo credit: Inside the NBA

With the possibility of Inside the NBA having just one season left starting to seem real, Charles Barkley isn’t excited about their final act.

Wednesday morning, the Sports Business Journal reported the NBA is “formalizing written contracts with Disney, NBC and Amazon this week” for game rights. While basketball fans will cheer the return of the NBA on NBC and Roundball Rock, fallout from the reunion will likely mark the end of the league’s relationship with Warner Bros. Discovery’s TNT. Further, it will mark the end of Barkley, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal on TNT’s Inside the NBA.

With news of NBC’s deal being reported Barkley joined Frank Isola and Brian Scalabrine Wednesday morning on SiriusXM NBA Radio where he expressed concern for the people behind the camera that he’s spent decades working with at TNT.

“It sucks right now for the people I work with,” Barkley said. “It just sucks right now. There’s nothing I could say because I’m worried about all the people I work with. I just turned 61, I got enough money. I don’t even look at it as getting fired, I said, ‘damn, I get to play more golf?’ People ask what I’m thinking right now, I’m like, ‘Please hurry and get this Western Conference Finals over cause I can play golf every day for the next four months.’ And I love it…But I really feel bad, man. Because 200 people are probably going to lose their jobs with Turner if we lose the NBA.”

Even if TNT loses the NBA, their current contract doesn’t expire until after the 2024-25 season. Meaning the hundreds of people involved with the NBA on TNT will go into next season knowing it’s their last. NBA fans might take solace in knowing Inside the NBA can still have its swan song next season, but for the workers who know they’ll be on the market this time next year, that’s a very awkward reality.

“You know the real thing that sucks?” Barkley continued. “We got another year. It will be a really tough lame duck year and the people know they’re going to get fired at the end of the year. I was thinking about hanging it up anyway. I told these guys that I was going to retire soon anyway. But like I said, I just feel bad for the people around me…It just sucks, plain and simple. That’s the only thing I can say.”

Scalabrine asked about the prospect of moving Inside the NBA to Amazon or any of the league’s partners if TNT loses its game rights. And while everyone assumes broadcast partners would be eager to create Inside the NBA 2.0 with the same cast, Barkley seemed less certain.

“I know Ernie will not go anywhere,” Barkley said, citing the expectation that Johnson is nearing retirement. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with Amazon, ESPN, or if we lose it to NBC. I’m not sure how to answer that question, honestly. I just don’t know. Ernie would not go to another network, I’m damn sure about that. But I would listen. I would listen before I made any decisions.”

Next season might be a “tough lame duck year” for the NBA on TNT. But it will be must watch TV for basketball fans. The NBA reportedly didn’t appreciate Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson being critical of the league on ESPN, just wait until they have Barkley and Shaq no-holds-barred on TNT for a full season.


About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to