Charles Barkley calls TNT leaders 'clowns,' suggests his production company could take over 'Inside The NBA'

Charles Barkley is confused, morose and, most of all, angry that TNT is on the verge of losing its rights to the NBA, and the ability to do his beloved "Inside the NBA" show with the network.

It was reported Tuesday that the NBA is on the verge of finalizing its new media rights deals with Disney/ESPN, NBC and Amazon, which would leave TNT without NBA games for the first time in more than two decades. Its parent company Warner Bros. Discovery can reportedly match NBC's package, but seems unlikely to do so.

It was in that context Barkley appeared on "The Dan Patrick Show" and laid into the leadership that is letting the NBA walk out the door. He said that morale is understandably low at TNT and complained that WBD opted to acquire rights to College Football Playoff games instead:

“Morale sucks, plain and simple. 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 have used that money to buy the NBA.”

"Inside the NBA" remains one of the most popular studio shows in all of sports, with Barkley, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal providing blunt analysis and more laughs than any of its competitors.

Barkley has said in the past that his contract allows him to become a free agent if TNT loses its NBA rights, but he suggested to Patrick that he could take it a step forward and take over the whole show through his production company. Again, he had a choice word for his bosses, plus an esoteric wine analogy:

“I’ve talked to the guys about everybody signing with my production company, 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.

"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."

A major issue with that idea is Johnson, as it's been reported that the longtime broadcaster plans to stay at TNT even if it loses the NBA.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 20: Charles Barkley is seen in attendance during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Charles Barkley has several bones to pick with TNT's parent company at Warner Bros. Discovery. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Barkley further speculated that Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav angered NBA commissioner Adam Silver by saying "We don't have to have the NBA" in 2022. At the very least, it was a bad omen with media rights negotiations coming up and WBD looking to cut costs.

Barkley is most angry for the people who have worked on "Inside the NBA" for years and years:

“I am [angry]. 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.