After spending the offseason flirting with LIV Golf, Charles Barkley is back at TNT with a new deal. As is the rest of the "Inside the NBA" team.
Parent company Warner Bros. Discovery announced on Monday that Barkley, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal have signed new contracts to continue anchoring TNT's NBA studio coverage. Details weren't divulged, but WBD promises that the broadcast team will "stay together for many years to come."
For fans of the beloved studio show, the announcement is welcome news after Barkley's dalliance with LIV Golf alongside his longtime refrain that he'd retire at 60 years old. Barkley is 59.
Barkley's dalliance with LIV Golf
Barkley, in his typically candid fashion, spoke openly about his negotiations with LIV Golf during the summer. He went as far as publicly naming his price to join the rebel tour that's lured pro golfers from the PGA with eight-figure contracts. He scoffed at the criticism that he was negotiating with the Saudi-backed league chastised as a sportswashing effort to distract from the nation's lengthy history of human-rights abuses.
After talks with LIV Golf failed to produce a deal, Barkley announced in July that "I’m staying with Turner for the rest of my TV career." Now that career is extended for the foreseeable future.
Barkley isn't the only reason for "Inside the NBA's" success. But he's the only member of the studio show who's regularly teased his exit. If it was all a long negotiating ploy, it appears to have paid off.
The fate of "Inside the NBA" took on additional urgency this summer when new ownership under WBD initiated drastic layoffs and divestment from content across its properties including HBO. Alongside staffing cuts, HBO has canceled shows and shelved nearly completed movies before they were released as reported tax write-offs.
But major live sports remain a lucrative investment commanding 11-figure rights deals. "Inside the NBA" isn't going anywhere.