Score one for TNT's continuing NBA coverage, and score another for ESPN's college basketball analysis.
TNT NBA studio analyst Charles Barkley, who provides analysis on the Emmy-Award winning Inside the NBA studio show alongside Emmy-winning host Ernie Johnson and co-analyst Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith, has agreed to a multi-year contract extension. As part of the agreement Barkley will continue to work exclusively for the network on TNT NBA Thursdays, TNT’s 40 games. 40 night’s playoff schedule, NBA All-Star Weekend and the network’s exclusive Conference Finals coverage. With the new agreement, which begins with the 2008-09 NBA season, the 2006 Basketball Hall of Famer inductee will also make a number of appearances on the jointly managed NBA TV and on Turner’s broadband channel TNT NBA OverTime on NBA.com.
Meanwhile, ESPN's NCAA coverage has a new addition for tournament time:
Recently resigned Texas Tech head coach Bob Knight will join ESPN as a college basketball studio analyst during the network's coverage of Championship Week Presented by Dick's Sporting Goods and through the NCAA Tournament.
"I think ESPN has been real good for college basketball and I look forward to working with some of their people who I have known a long time," Knight said.
The winningest coach in Division I men's college basketball history, Knight will begin Wednesday, March 12 from ESPN's Bristol studios and conclude Monday, April 7 from the ESPN set in San Antonio, Texas, site of the NCAA Final Four. As part of the agreement, Knight will also appear on select ESPN shows and platforms, including SportsCenter, ESPN Radio and ESPNEWS.
Excellent work all around.
Knight is one of the top coaches and basketball minds to ever walk the planet, and he'll provide a fair bit of excellent insight if given the opportunities by ESPN. Further, as has always been indicated in his teams' darkest times, Knight can offer quite the amusing line of commentary when he finds experiences frustrating. Working as an analyst rather than a coach, it wouldn't be a shock to see a lighter side of Knight come out on air this spring as well. Should be a lot of fun for all. For my part, I would happily have this guy on NBA telecasts just to hear him rant about NBA players and how frustrated he would have been to coach in the Association.
So far as TNT is concerned, I'll make no bones about it: I'm a fan of the Chuckster. He is one of the greatest to ever play the game and has a lot more knowledge than he sometimes indicates or has time to impart on air. Barkley is a smarter dude than many give him credit for, and he is a born entertainer. Sure, he rips on certain players more than necessary and has his own set of biases, but ultimately he is an integral and praiseworthy part of one of (if not the single best) studio shows in all of sports. I'll take my chances with him any day of the week.