Charles Barkley announces plans to retire in 2025 amid NBA media rights talks

As Warner Bros. Discovery continues to negotiate media rights with the NBA, TNT commentator Charles Barkley announced Friday that he plans to retire from television broadcasting in 2025.

Barkley, 61, a Hall of Fame forward and widely respected broadcaster, has been a fixture at TNT since retiring from the NBA in 2000. and commentators Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith on the popular and influential “Inside the NBA” show.

The NBA is in talks with Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, Amazon and NBC about its next media rights deal, which will begin after the 2024-25 season. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this month that negotiations were continuing, but multiple reports indicated that TNT’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, could lose NBA rights for the first time since 1988.

“There’s been a lot of noise on our network over the last few months,” Barkley said. “I want to say: I talked to all the other networks, but I didn’t go anywhere but TNT. But I made a decision for myself: whatever happens, next year will be my last year on television. I want to thank my NBA family. You’ve been good to me. My heart is full of joy and gratitude. It’s full. But I’m going to be with NBA TNT at the end of the year, but for me personally, I want you to hear from me.

Barkley, who has hinted at a possible retirement for years, made the announcement on the NBA TV postgame show following the Dallas Mavericks’ 122-84 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

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“I don’t do any more interviews,” he said. “Don’t you call me. I’m not talking about this again. I wanted to tell my TNT and NBA TV family that I’m not going to another network. I’m going to pass the baton to Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or Steve [Smith].”

Barkley signed a contract extension with TNT through 2022, which reportedly gave him the option to leave the network if it couldn’t renew its media rights deal with the NBA. As media rights negotiations have dragged on for months, Barkley has repeatedly criticized TNT’s leadership and voiced his support for the network’s rank-and-file staff.

“I want to say this because you are my family,” Barkley said. “I love TNT, all the people who work here, and NBA TV. You have been wonderful to me for 24 years. I want to thank my entire NBA family. I love you guys.

Johnson, 67, who joined Turner Sports in 1989, said last month that he would not leave TNT even if the network loses its NBA rights.

Silver said on June 6 that media rights negotiations were “incredibly complex” and that league staff were “working around the clock” to finalize new contracts.

“It’s complicated for a number of reasons,” Silver said. “One is the arrival of new platforms, especially streaming and the interest of streaming companies, and then traditional media companies are also taking our games to streaming platforms. It’s complicated with many partners. In many cases, when they go to different partners, finding the right way is good for the stability of the league. We think to a certain extent you are trying to predict the future, which of course is impossible.

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The commissioner added that “Inside the NBA” has a “special” role in the league’s community and that he enjoys a “close relationship with everyone on the show.”

“On the one hand, from a league standpoint, it’s wonderful to be wanted and wanted and have so many suitors,” Silver said. “At the same time, I’m uncomfortable with the fact that it’s zero-sum, at the end of the day there’s only so many TV packages, so many finals and playoff games and only regular season games distributed.

“To the people who seem to be most affected right now, I would say directly to the people at Turner Sports, I apologize that this has been a long process because I know they are committed to their jobs. I know people who work in this industry. It’s a big part of their identity and their family’s identity, and Nobody likes this uncertainty and I think it’s up to the league office to bring these negotiations to a head and finish them as quickly as we can.

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