Asked how long he wants to continue in sports broadcasting, Charles Barkley told SI.com something shocking: He's almost done.
"I love my job," Barkley said. "I love the people I work with. And I'm going to try to do things to keep me engaged. But I have four years left on my current deal and to be honest with you, it's going to be a struggle for me to make it for the whole four years. I really don't know how much longer I'm going to do this. I need something more, or something else to do to be honest with you."
In an extended interview with SI.com, Barkley was contemplative about his future as a broadcaster. The TNT NBA analyst has uttered similar things before -- including plenty of talk about an Alabama gubernatorial run -- but he offered extended remarks about needing a new challenge. "I only thought I would do this for three or four years but now I have been doing it for 13 years," Barkley said. "When I got to my fifth year of broadcasting I was like 'OK, I'll do this a couple of more years.' But now I'm like, 'Dude, you have been doing this for 13 years and if I make it to the end of the contract it will be 17 years.' Seventeen years is a long time. It's a lifetime in broadcasting. I personally have to figure out the next challenge for me."
Last year Barkley told his Turner bosses that he needed something to re-engage him. He asked to do more games onsite as an analyst and last January Turner assigned Barkley to the Heat-Hawks game in Atlanta with Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller. Barkley loved it. "When I did the game with Kevin and Reggie I had a blast," Barkley said. "And judging by the feedback we got, I think the fans liked it too. I am excited to do that this year."
Barkley is currently scheduled to call two games as a game analyst in the first half of the season. He'll be in Miami for the Spurs at Heat (Nov. 29, 8 p.m. ET) and New York for Lakers at Knicks (Dec. 13, 8 p.m. ET).
Asked for something in broadcasting he'd like to do before he moves on to another profession, Barkley said he wants to call a college basketball game with ESPN's Dick Vitale. He even went so far as to tell his bosses at Turner about his wish. What was their response? "They kind of just blew me off a little bit," Barkley said. "But I don't get my ego caught up with that. Dick does a great job with college basketball and we do a great job with the NBA. I just think it would be fun for Dick and I to do a game together."
For his part, ESPN's Vitale said he'd be up for it. "Let's get it done with Dan Shulman at the controls," Vitale said. "Love the Round Mound of Rebound."
"We had an opportunity to expose illegal activity going on around youth football, in plain view of children, and that could potentially be harmful to the development and future of these children," said producer Greg Amante, a member of ESPN's Enterprise Unit. "As we uncovered more and more information during our reporting, what was perhaps most disturbing was the actual paying of these kids to perform. We knew there was gambling going on -- we could often see it out in the open. But seeing it and documenting it on camera can be two different challenges. We had to position ourselves in the exact location where the betting was to take place, be there at just the right moment and make sure our hidden cameras were close enough and in the right position to document it."
Amante said the reporting fell under ESPN coordinating producer Dwayne Bray's investigative unit at ESPN. OTL investigative reporter Paula Lavigne, one of ESPN's best journalists, fronted the piece. She told SI.com that sourcing was a challenge. "People were afraid to talk out of fear of retailiation," Lavigne said. "We worked hard to find people, gain their trust and get information."
Full marks for all. Superb work.
The hire comes after Jeff Van Gundy told USA Today that Stan had a basic agreement to become an ESPN/ABC analyst before an entity from the outside (both Jeff and Stan intimated it was the NBA putting pressure on ESPN) put the kibosh on the deal. You can read about the drama
On Friday SI.com spoke with Van Gundy about his foray into broadcasting:
ESPN has long insisted that Lupica's political commentary for the
ESPN has plenty of people on staff -- Bob Ley, Jeremy Schaap, Kelly Naqi, T.J. Quinn, Pedro Gomez, Jeannine Edwards, Hannah Storm, Sal Paolantonio, Tom Rinaldi, Lisa Salters, Doris Burke, Rachel Nichols, Ed Werder, Adam Schefter, Trey Wingo, Don Van Natta, Holly Rowe, Michael Wilbon, Mark Fainaru-Wada, Paula Lavigne, Kevin Blackistone, Andy Katz, Steve Levy, Tim Kurkjian, Chris Mortensen, Chris McKendry, Buster Olney, Tony Kornheiser, Colleen Dominguez, Mike Greenberg, J.A. Adande, John Clayton, Len Elmore, Wright Thompson, and Rick Reilly, to name a few -- who have far more journalistic bona fides than Berman, still solid as a host on