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Charles Barkley is one of the true gems in sports media and a fixture on TNT’s Inside the NBA.
But enjoy him while you can, folks, because once his current contract is up, the outspoken 58-year-old is calling it quits. Speaking with reporters on a conference call Tuesday, Barkley revealed his contract is up after the 2023-24 season, per Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.
“And that’s probably going to be it for me,” Barkley said.
Barkley has been on the show since the 2000-01 season, when he joined forces with Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith. Shaquille O’Neal joined following his retirement in 2011 and since then, the show has won 10 Sports Emmy Awards.
“It’s been a great, great thing,” Barkley said. “I love Ernie, Kenny, Shaq and everybody we work with. But I just don’t feel the need to work until the day I die. I don’t, man. I’ll be 61 years old if I finish out my contract.
“And I don’t want to die on TV. I want to die on the golf course or somewhere fishing. I don’t want to be sitting inside over [by] fat-ass Shaq [waiting] to drop dead.”
While Barkley has seemingly put a deadline on his retirement, O’Neal has been much more skeptic.
“He’s never gonna quit,” O’Neal told the “Marchand and Ourand” podcast in November. “Charles is gonna be here forever. We need him, and he needs us. I’m convinced that if I’m retired and I don’t do nothing, I will falter away. This is what we do and what we live for. It’s what we’ve been doing, and we need each other.
“We keep each other going. Look, I’ve been here 11 years. I’ve heard that spiel before, but he’s gonna be here till the wheels fall off.”
In recent years, TNT has trotted out multiple former current and former players, including Candace Parker, Dwyane Wade and Draymond Green. The latter, still an All-Star caliber player with the Warriors, is reportedly being groomed to replace Barkley once he retires.