Of the four members on TNT’s Inside the NBA to sign contract extensions this week, Charles Barkley was the only one who publicly considered leaving the show. That he decided to return was not exactly a surprise, but, thanks to Neil Best, we now have an idea of what it took to ensure Barkley’s return… appearances on CNN, a subsidiary of Turner like TNT.
This is slightly concerning, considering no one I know who enjoys Charles’ shtick does so because they agree with his opinions, and it’s a lot easier to disagree amicably over sports than over politics. Barkley has used his platform on Inside to speak out on social issues before, and it was uncomfortable. Then again, if he’s on CNN, the #StickToSports call doesn’t apply so much.
If this is what it took to keep Charles Barkley on Inside the NBA, I’m not surprised that Turner agreed. His presence is one of the driving forces behind the show’s enduring popularity. However, divorcing him from the sport which made him famous isn’t likely to make any of his old viewers take him seriously.