Charles Barkley Reflects on the Future of ‘Inside the NBA’ – Generic English

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“You should do it out there,” Smith said, suggesting the interview take place outside the elevator.

Barkley turned to me, “Don’t worry about him.”

“He should clear that up through Turner,” Smith said. “He should do it right.”

Why was it so important for him to speak up, I asked Barkley, even if others around him didn’t want him to? He nodded at the impact the uncertainty has on the staff members who work on the show. And not just the most well-known characters on the air: Barkley, Smith, Shaquille O’Neal and host Ernie Johnson.

“It’s people’s lives,” Barkley said. “Not my life. Not Ernie’s life. Not Kenny’s life. Not Shaq’s life. But all the people who work here. We probably have 100 people working on the show. So they are real people. I watched their children be born, graduate from high school, graduate from college.

“Inside the NBA” began when Turner Sports acquired the rights to broadcast NBA games in 1989. Johnson became the host in 1990, and Smith joined him in 1998. Barkley’s arrival, and his unfiltered opinions, in 2000 firmly established the show as appointment television for basketball fans and an integral part of the league’s culture. O’Neal joined the broadcast in 2011, and the group’s irreverent and astute basketball analysis, free from concerns about access or ego, endeared him to viewers and critics. Now this mainstay of NBA coverage may be in danger, at least in its current format.

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