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Shaq & Charles Barkley Both Caught Sleeping During Playoffs

The TNT crew had a playoff tripleheader on Sunday.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: TNT

The high-flying action had most NBA fans on the edge of their seat this weekend. Though, don’t count Charles Barkley or Shaquille O’Neal in that group. Each got called out for sleeping during various points of watching the Sunday games.

The “Inside The NBA” crew had a tripleheader of games to work on Sunday. Wizards-Sixers, Hawks-Knicks, and Jazz-Grizzlies all played out on TNT’s airwaves. The trusty “Inside The NBA” team was on hand for all three, but Barkley was the first analyst to rest his eyes during the opening half of Wizards-Sixers.

“Well I also thought they did a good job on [Bradley] Beal and [Russell] Westbrook; they played really good defense,” Barkley mused before O’Neal cut him off.

“I’m sorry to interrupt; I know snitches get stitches, but he was not watching the game, and I have proof,” Shaq accused of Barkley before he responded, “Who?”

O’Neal had the evidence ready as the broadcast showed Barkley looking comfortable in the game viewing lounge, resting his eyes for the world to see.

“Well, from what you were able to see in the first half, what did you think?” Ernie Johnson jokingly asked Barkley, who had his excuse ready to fire. “I was a little tired today Ernie. I shot a commercial all day yesterday in the sun. so I’m a little tired,” Barkley said.

O’Neal counted his chickens too early this weekend because just a few hours later, Barkley had the camera crew catch the other big fella on set snoozing during the first half of Knicks-Hawks.

“Is their sleeping gas in that room?!” Kenny Smith joked after seeing the four-time NBA champion passed out during the first playoff game at Madison Square Garden since 2013.

The maintenance team at the TNT studios may want to follow up on Smith’s question before a busy next few days of coverage begins. TNT carries eight playoff games this week before ESPN jumps back into the rotation.

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After Losing Out On Big Ten Rights, ESPN Turns Focus to NCAA Championships

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024.

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After reportedly losing out on the Big Ten’s television rights, ESPN is reportedly turning to securing the NCAA Championship rights from hitting the open market.

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024. Those 29 championships include everything from Women’s basketball to ice hockey, wrestling, softball, and baseball. The network pays a reported $34 million for the rights to broadcast those championship events.

However, according to a study commissioned by the NCAA reveals that the women’s basketball tournament could be worth anywhere from $81 million to $112 million per year by its lonesome. The NCAA is reportedly considering selling the women’s basketball tournament rights as a standalone product in the next negotiation.

Sources told Front Office Sports ESPN remains interested in striking deals with the Pac-12 and Big 12 media rights, as well as renewing a deal for the College Football Playoff.

The news comes after Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported ESPN declined a final offer from the Big Ten for a portion of the conference’s media rights. The reported deal was seven years and $380 million per year.

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ESPN Announces The Return of Stephen A. Smith to First Take

ESPN announced Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th.

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Stephen A. Smith

First Take has been without it’s anchor since the day after the NBA Draft in June. That’s when the ESPN personality took some time off to undergo shoulder surgery and to rehabilitate. However, it appears the wait for his return is almost over.

ESPN announced with a tweet that Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th. They also teased a guest appearance from Michael Irvin.

This comes a day after Smith tweeted that the countdown was on for his return and we are one week away from the event.

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Field Yates Re-Ups With ESPN

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

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Field Yates

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

Yates, 35, would have been a valuable target for FanDuel or DraftKings, surmises Andrew Marchand of The New York Post — who first reported the news — due to his large following on Twitter.

Yates, who also works as a host of Fantasy Football Now and NFL Insider for the network, across multiple platforms including ESPN Radio, will continue in those roles in addition to an assumed expansion of fantasy football duties after Berry’s exit.

He has worked for ESPN since 2012.

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