Charles Barkley has message for bosses at Warner Bros. Discovery: ‘I can talk to who I want’

Charles Barkley’s tear against his own corporate employer saw the former NBA All-Star flagrantly bucking protocol: “I can talk to who I want to.”

Mere days after the basketball player-turned-commentator clapped back at claims his CNN “limited series” had been canceled, an interview with The New York Times knocked the status quo on multiple levels.

As reported by the newspaper’s Tania Ganguli, after Monday’s Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference Finals left the Dallas Mavericks one win away from sweeping the Minnesota Timberwolves to head to the finals, Barkley “batted away several attempts by security and public relations officials to prevent him from doing an interview,” with her on an elevator with his “Inside the NBA” co-host Kenny Smith.

“Hey, man, I can talk to who I want to,” the All-Star was quoted as saying with an expletive to his fellow TNT analyst who would recommend Barkley go through the proper PR channels to arrange the face-to-face.

While Ganguli noted, “Others in the elevator shifted uncomfortably,” Smith was cited as pressing, “You should do that out there.”

“Don’t worry about him,” Barkley told the reporter before his co-host futilely added, “She should clear it through Turner. She should do it the right way.”

With the effort to upend the interview proving a failure, the analyst, whom CNN reported had signed a new 10-year contract with fellow Warner Bros. Discovery-owned TNT in 2023, expressed his disfavor with how the parent company had failed to secure the rights for the continued broadcast of NBA games after next season.

“It’s people’s lives,” he expressed to Ganguli before referencing his broadcast peers Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Smith, “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 who do work on the show. So they’re, like, real people. I’ve seen their kids born, graduate high school, graduate college.”

According to Bloomberg, the NBA had sought $2.3 billion a year from WBD, but CEO David Zaslav would not go higher than roughly $2.1 billion. “The league got up from the table and walked right into the arms of Comcast and Amazon.”

“These people I work with, they screwed things up — clearly,” Barkley had said during a Thursday appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show.” “It sucks for all of us.”

Of course, the former basketballer had also voiced his displeasure during a conversation on “The Mike Missanelli Podcast” when the eponymous host had brought up the seemingly abrupt end of the CNN program “King Charles” co-hosted by Barkley with Gayle King.

“First of all, it wasn’t canceled… I talk to Gayle all the time. They haven’t told us we were canceled,” he said. “That’s how stupid these people are. I was always only gonna do that for a short period of time and then I was gonna go back to the NBA. So, me and Gayle, like — this is how boneheaded these people are I work with.”

“But that just shows you how full of sh*t the whole thing is with CNN,” Barkley added over the leadership there. “Like, we had new people take over and we’re in disarray. Like, yesterday they put an article out that CNN had its worst ratings ever since like 1992.”

Kevin Haggerty

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