Good news for fans of the best studio show in televised sports: Charles Barkley will be returning to the set of “Inside the NBA” soon. The man with a thousand vices was placed on an indefinite leave in early January after a DUI arrest on December 31. You probably remember that quite well. As for when we can expect Barkley back, well… soon. Kinda soon.
Turner Sports president David Levy told the SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL that a final decision on the date of Barkley’s return wouldn’t come until after the All-Star break (article is subscription only, sorry kids) , which is in about two weeks. Levy said the decision would be made on a “gut feel,” and this is where you start running through the “fat guy” jokes in your brain.
Whether Levy’s decision to schedule Barkley’s return for after the All-Star break has anything at all to do with TNT’s preposterous decision to let Geico rename the game of “HORSE”, well, we doubt the network would admit that’s a factor. Still, you know Barkley thinks it’s a horrible idea, and keeping him as far away from a TV camera as possible is the best move.
Now, the most interesting part of this story is undoubtedly what Barkley’s going to say about the arrest and suspension once he gets back on the air. As we mentioned before, he’s a man of many vices, but principal among those is honesty. We suspect there’ll be some self-flagellation for the litany of bad decisions that led to his arrest, and while that’s not usually entertaining television, it’s the only way Barkley can retain any credibility in the eyes of his fans. A scripted, carefully worded apology always rings false - mainly because 95% of the time, the people who give public apologies are politicians, who are all lying liars.
No, Sir Charles should approach this with its appropriate gravity, but with the same unfiltered candor that he treats everything else. If he does that, expresses genuine remorse, and briefly touches on the effect it’s had on him (not too much, because honestly, most people probably won’t care about the details), then we can move on and he can get back to doing what he does best - besides swinging a golf club, of course.