Charles Barkley: TNT Execs 'Know Better' Than to Disturb Me Over Critiques

NBA legend Charles Barkley speaks out on network tensions

by Zain ul Abedin
Charles Barkley: TNT Execs 'Know Better' Than to Disturb Me Over Critiques
© Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Charles Barkley, the NBA Hall of Famer and a face of TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” has openly criticized the way Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) is handling its NBA rights negotiations, amidst fears of losing these rights.

Barkley, known for his outspoken nature, has expressed his concerns in various interviews, particularly focusing on the impact of these negotiations on the show’s behind-the-scenes staff. In a recent episode of the “SI Media with Jimmy Traina” podcast, Barkley revealed that his superiors at TNT have not contacted him regarding his public comments, asserting, “They know better”.

This response came after WBD CEO David Zaslav controversially mentioned in 2022 that TNT could operate without NBA programming. This statement did not sit well with Barkley or NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Barkley's Candid Critique

Barkley criticized Zaslav for his remarks and the lack of direct communication between them, noting they had only met twice, the latest being at WBD’s upfronts.

He highlighted the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the negotiations, stressing that the lack of clear communication has left the staff anxious and uncertain about their future: “Just say something to let the people be able to breathe a little bit”.

The controversy also included a tension-filled interaction involving New York Times reporter Tania Ganguli, who attempted to interview Barkley. This move was met with resistance from TNT’s security and public relations team, and even drew criticism from “Inside the NBA” co-hosts, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith, emphasizing the sensitivity of the situation.

Amidst these internal strains, Sports Business Journal reported that the NBA is nearing agreements with Disney, NBC, and Amazon for the rights to broadcast the 2025-26 season and beyond. NBC could potentially replace TNT for the "B" package at a staggering $2.6 billion annually.

This development raises questions about whether TNT attempted to match these offers to retain its longstanding association with the NBA.

Charles Barkley