Charles Barkley is America’s most beloved sports commentator in large part because he never lies to the people. Barkley has never forced himself into giving out hot takes — he just naturally has them sometimes — and he never pretends a game or team is something its not.
That presence makes Inside the NBA what it is, and there is simply no other sports show like it. They are given more space than any other show to go down tangents, crack inside jokes (that they let the audience in on as well), and will also dive into deep basketball analysis when they see fit. However, they won’t force it when a game is bad, and aren’t afraid to admit when the game they’ve been watching simply hasn’t been enjoyable. That might run counterintuitive to a broadcast trying to get people to watch, but it’s why people stick around for the halftime and postgame shows when a game’s been miserable to watch, because you know Chuck, Shaq, and Kenny (usually in that order) are going to call it out as such.
In a new 60 Minutes profile on Barkley, he admit he sometimes falls asleep in the green room when the TNT game is especially bad, noting he won’t try to lie to the audience about a bad game because “the fans ain’t stupid.”
Sixty nights a year, Charles Barkley is the go-to guy on the riveting, unscripted show “Inside the NBA.” Barkley is known for his outspoken honesty.
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) July 30, 2023
The best recent example of this was Chuck gleefully telling fans during a playoff game that he was busy watching hockey in the back because the game they had was a blowout. However, the all-timer is when he begged America not to buy a Bucks-Lakers game for $6.99 on League Pass during an ad read as it was in the particularly dark days of the Lakers when they were among the league’s worst teams. It’s that honesty that makes Charles such a beloved figure in sports media because so many shows seem determined to sell us something that’s just not true. Barkley, for his faults, won’t do that, and sometimes that means calling the product TNT is literally selling out as bad.