Could TNT replace Charles Barkley with Kobe Bryant one day?
With both Kobe Bryant and Charles Barkley apparently ruminating retirement from their current professions sooner rather than later, some believe that the Los Angeles Lakers superstar would be a perfect replacement for the outspoken and sometimes outrageous analyst on TNT’s NBA coverage.
Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch opines in a column that if the stars align just so, Bryant, referred to by many as the NBA’s best interview, could seamless slide into the seat vacated by Barkley on the “Inside the NBA” set.
Deitsch writes that Bryant possesses “intelligence, passion, credibility and honesty,” traits found in the best sports broadcasters.
Should a TNT or ESPN hire Bryant, it would be a marketing coup for them, and Deitsch writes that Kobe could command an annual salary in range of $4 million to $5 million.
One person who believes Bryant would be a natural as an analyst is Turner Sports senior vice president and executive creative director Craig Barry
“He’s obviously smart and articulate and he would be a great candidate,” he said. “But like any job there is a certain amount of passion that the person needs to have for the day to day. That element of passion and wanting to share the game is a huge part of being able to connect with the viewer. That’s a huge part of being a successful broadcaster and I think Kobe would be great at it. But he would have to want to do it.”
As it relates to Bryant being the possible successor of Barkley on TNT, the analyst routinely has warned that his broadcasting career is much nearer its end than its beginning. Bryant’s NBA future, however, is somewhat more unclear. The aging Lakers superstar stated earlier this season that he had every intention of playing next season, but he seems to be hedging his bets a bit of late. When asked if he is considering retirement at season’s end, Bryant appeared much more unsure about things.
“I’d be lying if I said that it hasn’t crossed my mind,” Bryant told The Los Angeles Times. “Right now I doubt it … but anything’s possible.”
Something about Bryant’s makeup indicates that he would like to remain close to the game he loves so dearly. Perhaps an executive/front office position would be in order, but the possibility that he would be open to becoming a coach seems remote at best. It seems from the outside that the hyper-competitive Bryant would much prefer to be in front of the camera instead of standing helpless by the bench as the game goes on in front of him.
[H/T Ball Don’t Lie, photo credit: