Stephen A. Smith discusses Charles Barkley's retirement announcement. Photo credit: The Stephen A. Smith Show

Charles Barkley shocked the NBA last week by announcing his retirement, an announcement that Stephen A. Smith isn’t buying.

After Game 4 of the NBA Finals last Friday night, Barkley revealed next season will be his last in sports media. The announcement came while the future of Inside the NBA is in doubt as Warner Bros. Discovery appears close to losing league rights for TNT. Barkley insisted he will retire regardless of what happens with the NBA on TNT. Smith, however, doesn’t think Barkley is retiring, regardless of what happens with the NBA on TNT.“I’m not in any way calling Charles Barkley a liar,” Smith said on his latest podcast episode. “I think that Charles Barkley is very sincere. I just don’t think it’s gonna happen. I don’t think Charles Barkley is leaving.”

Smith went on to surmise Barkley’s retirement announcement was him reaching a sort of boiling point while WBD is about to lose NBA game rights, ending TNT’s 35-year partnership with the league. Barkley has repeatedly expressed frustration over the negotiations in recent months, faulting WBD executives, mainly CEO David Zaslav for botching talks with the NBA and not being forthright with its own employees. Smith believes Barkley doesn’t want to land a multimillion-dollar contract elsewhere while the hundreds of people he worked with at the NBA on TNT are struggling to find new jobs.

“And that is the Charles Barkley you’re hearing right now,” Smith continued. “A Charles Barkley that loves the people he works with. That loves a lot of the bosses he worked for. That loves some of the colleagues he worked with on the air and behind the scenes. It’s a family over there to him. And he can’t imagine wanting to be somewhere else, working with or for somebody else while those people are looking for a job.”

Smith assumes Barkley would be willing to continue Inside the NBA through his production company to keep all of those people employed by outsourcing the show. Dan Patrick has shared a similar sentiment and Barkley previously acknowledged he was interested in continuing the show through his production company.

“I’m willing to bet my check Charles Barkley would do it just for them,” Smith said. “Because no matter the fact that he’s the Round Mound of Rebound, he’s the mouth that roars, he’ll tell it like it is…he’s got a heart of gold. He’s one of the best human beings you’ll ever see in your life. And those people are people he cares a great deal about.”

The problem, however, is Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith have their own production companies and would undoubtedly be interested in adding the massive asset that Inside the NBA is to their catalogs. But regardless of whether Barkley figures out a way to keep Inside the NBA together or ends up seeking a job with another network, it’s very hard to imagine he’s actually going to retire after next season.

Barkley has forecasted his own retirement for years, only to keep moving the goalposts when his previously announced end gets near. He still seeks way too many microphones and has way too much to say to contently retire.

“I’m not saying he’s lying. I’m saying, don’t believe he’s gone for good. Don’t believe it,” Smith insisted. “I don’t believe it for one second. His voice is too powerful. It’s too influential, it’s too enjoyable. And he loves the game of basketball too much. He ain’t 80! He’s still got a lot of life left in him. So I don’t think for one second this is gonna be the end. I just think he’s pissed off at the way colleagues at TNT are being thrown out to pasture.”

[The Stephen A. Smith Show]

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