Kevin Harlan Credit: TNT Sports

Kevin Harlan has called NBA games on TNT for nearly three decades, and has been the network’s top voice for the sport since 2021. While the future of Inside the NBA has gotten the most attention following the news that Warner Bros. Discovery is unlikely to strike a deal to retain NBA broadcast rights beyond the 2024-25 season, Harlan would also be a free agent for the first time in a long time.

In an interview on the SI Media with Jimmy Traina podcast released Thursday, Harlan expressed disappointment that TNT Sports was not able to retain the NBA and why he would be open to new opportunities calling the league at a different home if it came to that.

“I still have two very good employers at CBS and Westwood that I love working for, doing the NFL and still getting a little college basketball in,” Harlan said. “But I’d be lying if I said that the NBA didn’t have a very special place in my heart, and I hope in some form or fashion that I continue with Turner, and if not with Turner, we’ll let the fates guide me I guess.”

Though he’s just three seasons into being in the No. 1 booth at TNT Sports, Harlan is 63 and recognizes how rapidly the sports broadcasting and content business is changing. Harlan wants to make the most of the rest of the Western Conference Finals and the next NBA season, which would be TNT’s last under its current contract with the league.

“I’ve been with Turner for 28 years … we’ve had a lot of different ownership changes, but we’ve had the NBA that whole time. Turner runs, Turner broadcasting also controls NBA TV, there’s a lot of investment that company has made in the NBA,” Harlan said. “They’ve had them since the mid-80s as a network, so clearly there’s a lot on the line here. There’s nothing I can do. So I guess my immediate feel is I want to do the best job I can possibly do right now, I control the things I can control, and that’s my performance and doing the best I can do for these next [however] many games we’ve got left in this series.”

Personally, Harlan has a strong attachment to the NBA. While he calls NFL and college basketball games for CBS on television as well as Monday Night Football and the Super Bowl on radio for Westwood One, he doesn’t want to say goodbye to the NBA.

Harlan was recently recognized for his work as the first voice of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and his first job out of college was as the radio and TV voice of the then-Kansas City Kings.

“It was my first job, the NBA, and I’ve grown to love it,” Harlan told Traina. “I admire it more than I can even put into words. It’s been part of the fabric of my family, but if the worst would happen and they would leave and go someplace and there would be an opportunity for me down the road, I would leave grateful beyond measure that I’ve been lucky enough to do these games all these years.”

Just like the stars of Inside the NBA, Harlan would likely be at or near the top of the list for executives at NBC Universal and Amazon Prime Video as they staff up their NBA production teams in the coming year. These answers signal a willingness to make a move if an offer came in, provided his primary employer at CBS allowed it.

WBD reportedly was not willing to compensate for a lack of a broadcast channel to match a reported $2.5-2.6 billion offer from NBC Universal, and its legal matching rights reportedly did not extend to Amazon’s bid.

The NBA began formalizing its new broadcast rights package this week per multiple reports.

[SI Media with Jimmy Traina]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.