Charles Barkley says he’s retiring from broadcasting after 2024-25 NBA season

Charles Barkley, the basketball Hall of Famer whose second career as a blunt, no-BS commentator on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” may have eclipsed the heights he reached as a superstar player, announced Friday that next year will be his last on TV.

“I ain’t going nowhere other than TNT. But I have made the decision that no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television,” Barkley said on NBATV, after the Dallas Mavericks’ Game 4 victory over the Boston Celtics. “And I just want to say thank you to my NBA family. You guys have been great to me. My heart is full with joy and gratitude.”

Barkley’s exit coincides with Warner Bros. Discovery’s (WBD) media rights deal with the NBA expiring after next season. WBD, CNN’s parent company, could renew its deal, but NBC and Amazon have reportedly outbid WBD, according to the Wall Street Journal.

A new agreement on which networks or platforms might get NBA rights, including a separate package that will likely continue at ESPN, will likely be announced in the coming weeks.

“I hope the NBA stays with TNT, but for me personally, I wanted you guys to hear it from me,” Barkley continued. “I wanted to tell my NBATV and TNT family that I’m not going to another network, but I’m going to pass the baton to either Jamal Crawford or Vince Carter or you Steve (Smith).”

“But next year, I’m going to just retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you. And I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

Following a Hall of Fame career as a player, Barkley joined as an analyst on TNT’s award-winning studio show “Inside the NBA,” in 2000.

“Charles is a Hall of Famer and broadcasting icon who is and will always be a beloved member of the TNT Sports family,” said a TNT Sports spokesperson in a statement to CNN. “We’re looking forward to another fantastic NBA on TNT season and further discussion of our future plans with him.”

Barkley won two Olympic gold medals, made 11 All-Star teams, won the MVP award in 1993 and was named to the NBA’s 50th and 75th anniversary team. He was among the greatest players never to win a championship, a failure that he said haunted him throughout his career.

But his post-career transition to become one of the most beloved and respected sports broadcasters in a generation eventually overshadowed his time on-the-court.

It was an unlikely transformation. With a thick Alabama accent and a tendency to shoot from the hip, Barkley is not your typical sports analyst. But his free-wheeling, don’t-care attitude has made him must-watch TV and a viral sensation, even before social media.

In his nearly two-and-a-half decades with the network, Barkley has been awarded four Sports Emmys and has been inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Barkley had briefly hinted at a possible switch to politics, expressing an interest in becoming the governor of Alabama. But he has said he was uninspired by the major political forces in the United States.

“I consider myself an Independent because I hate the words Republican, Democratic, Conservative and Liberal,” he said. “I think you can be one of those things, but you don’t think that way on every subject.

From left, baseball player Dexter Fowler joins TNT's "Inside the NBA" team, Shaquille O'Neal, Ernie Johnson Jr., Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley in Las Vegas in 2017. - Ethan Miller/Getty Images
From left, baseball player Dexter Fowler joins TNT's "Inside the NBA" team, Shaquille O'Neal, Ernie Johnson Jr., Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley in Las Vegas in 2017. - Ethan Miller/Getty Images

“I really thought hard about running for governor but then I realized, like, I don’t think either one of these parties are really concerned about people and that’s what America is: people.”

While the future of the NBA on TNT remains uncertain, WBD announced Tuesday a 10-year deal to become the new US home for the French Open tennis tournament beginning in 2025.

Under the “new expansive deal,” all roughly 900 matches will air live on the streaming platform Max, with featured matches on TNT and TBS and a new whip-around show on truTV. WBD already has an existing relationship with Roland Garros since it began broadcasting the tennis tournament across Europe on Eurosport since 1989.

CNN’s Ray Sanchez, David Goldman, Jordan Valinsky, Eva Rothenberg, Ben Church and Chris Wallace, contributed to this report.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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