Charles Barkley unloads on TNT brass as network on verge of losing NBA rights


Charles Barkley is not being shy about how he feels about TNT being on the verge of losing its rights to the NBA. 

Barkley, one of the Hall of Fame talent on “Inside the NBA,” made an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” Thursday, when he referred to Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) heads as “clowns” while ripping the current situation. 

It was reported earlier this week that the NBA was on the verge of finalizing a new media rights deal with Disney/ESPN, NBC and Amazon, leaving TNT in the dust despite being a part of the NBA for over two decades. 

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Charles Barkley talks NBA

Charles Barkley looks on before the game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers as part of the 2023 NBA In-Season Tournament on Dec. 7, 2023 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Mike Kirschbaum/NBAE via Getty Images)

Warner Bros. Discovery reportedly can match NBC’s package, but it doesn’t appear they wish to. They acquired rights to the College Football Playoff, which is expanding next year, instead. 

“Morale sucks, plain and simple,” Barkley said bluntly to Patrick. “I just feel so bad for the people I work with, Dan. These people have families and I just really feel bad for them right now. These people I work with, they screwed this thing up, clearly, and we don’t have zero idea what’s gonna happen. I don’t feel good. I’m not gonna lie, especially when they came out yesterday and said we bought college football. I was like, ‘Well, damn, they could’ve used that money to buy the NBA.’

Barkley, alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith, have been loved by NBA fans on “Inside the NBA,” as they have provided great insight, wild predictions and tons of jokes and pranks that fans of the league cannot get enough of. 

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The quartet works perfectly, and Barkley even mentioned to Patrick that he might even take over the entire show with his production company if TNT loses its NBA rights. 

“I’ve talked to the guys about everybody signing with my production company,” Barkley said, “because I have my own production company, and I would love to do that if we lose it. Actually, somebody suggested that to me, to be honest with you, on the internet. Why don’t Charles Barkley sign these three guys, four guys total, it’s his production company, and sell it? I’m like, that’s a great idea. But like I said, we’re just sitting back, waiting on these people to figure out what they’re going to do.”

Then, Barkley used a wine reference to jab into WBD’s heads. 

Charles Barkley in Arizona

Phoenix Suns former player Charles Barkley in attendance at Footprint Center in Phoenix on Jan. 21, 2023. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

“My two favorite wines are Inglenook and Opus. These clowns I work for, they’ve turned us into Ripple and Boone’s Farm and Thunderbird.”

Barkley even suggested NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is not happy with WBD CEO David Zaslav after he said “we don’t have to have the NBA” in 2022. 

Either way, Barkley’s anger is at its most fiery when thinking about the “Inside the NBA” crew who stand to lose their gigs. 

“You know, Dan, it’s so interesting, I’ve been spending a lot of time with the crew lately. I’ve actually been with these guys where I’ve spent time with their – they bring their newborns in, they bring their kids in, they come in like when they were in high school and now they’ve graduated from college. That’s how long. Ernie’s been there 32 years, Kenny’s been there 27, I’ve been there 24, but think about that. 

“Some of these people I work with, they brought their newborns in to say hello to us, they brought them in in high school when they graduated, and now they’ve already graduated from college. 

So, yeah, I’m angry at people – they’re part of my family, to be honest with you. And I feel bad for those guys.”

Charles Barkley at The Match

Charles Barkley looks on during Capital One’s The Match IX at The Park West Palm on Feb. 26, 2024 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images for The Match)

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The NBA season is almost at a close, with both Conference Finals being played. Next year could be the first without “Inside the NBA,” and Barkley’s anger can certainly be felt.  

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