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Turner Hires Barkley as a Studio Analyst

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Charles Barkley, who says he is definitely retiring from basketball, will become a regular NBA studio analyst for TNT and TBS next season.

Turner Sports announced Monday it had signed Barkley for two years. He will make a guest appearance in the studio tonight when TNT, fittingly enough, televises Phoenix, one of his old teams, at Houston, the team he was playing for when he was hurt this season.

Barkley, who ruptured a knee tendon in a game Dec. 8, said his rehabilitation is ahead of schedule and he hopes to play one farewell game for the Rockets before retiring for good. He said he had considered coming back to play one more season but felt that because his injury occurred in Philadelphia, where he began his NBA career, there was a message there.

“It was too coincidental and too ironic that the injury occurred where I started out [in 1984],” he said.

Barkley, 37, spent his first eight seasons in Philadelphia before a four-year stay in Phoenix. This was Barkley’s fourth season with the Rockets.

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Barkley said NBC also had talked to him about employment, “but TNT seemed to want me more.” He added, “NBC is more strait-laced, a little too intense for me. I like to have a lot of fun.”

Barkley said he prefers studio work. “Doing games is more difficult, and I still I have a lot to learn,” he said.

Turner also may use Barkley in various capacities on other sports such as golf and its newest property, Wimbledon tennis.

“It would have to be in a capacity where I would have some fun, because I bring no great expertise in those sports,” Barkley said.

One thing for sure, Barkley will not be reluctant to express an opinion. On a conference call Monday, he said that Joe Morgan and Hubie Brown are his favorite commentators and Bill Walton might be his least favorite. “I like Bill, but the problem with Bill on television is, you listen to him and everybody else [pales]. It’s like, ‘I was the greatest who ever played.’ ”


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