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Charles Barkley Reveals Kobe Bryant Was Going to Join ‘Inside the NBA’

“During the regular season, you have to pump it up all week. That’s part of the gig, but Kobe didn’t want to do all that stuff. And it never worked out.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Charles Barkley spilled the beans on a secret that might get him called into the principal’s office at Turner Sports.

That secret? Turner had actually signed former Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant to a deal to join TNT’s Inside the NBA studio crew.

Barkley admitted he might get in trouble for speaking about it while appearing on The Draymond Green Show this week, but he brought up the Bryant signing in the context of being in the final years of his TV career.

“You built yourself an amazing life,” Barkley said. “Why not enjoy the back nine?

Barkley explained that part of being involved with the NBA on TNT is an obligation to do a certain number of interviews and media appearances each week to promote the Thursday night telecasts. He said that was something Kobe overlooked prior to signing his name on a contract with Turner Sports.

“During the regular season, you have to pump it up all week,” Barkley said of the media appearances. “That’s part of the gig, but Kobe didn’t want to do all that stuff. And it never worked out.”

Barkley explained that during the regular season the actual in-studio schedule is pretty light, but that’s the reason why he, Shaquille O’Neal, and Ernie Johnson have to constantly do interviews. He said once the playoffs start, things get busier. But ultimately during the season, they’re only on TV once a week.

Still, when Bryant, who tragically passed in 2020, heard about the additional commitments beyond just being on TV, he didn’t want to be a part of that.

“He was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to do all this stuff,’” Barkley said. “He never came to work for us.”

Barkley has said publicly he will likely retire from TV in the next year or two. He told Green he wants to enjoy being a grandfather and eventually become a great-grandfather, as well as traveling the world.

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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