Report: TNT's Barkley set to return

Updated: February 9, 2009, 8:03 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Charles Barkley will return to the TNT network as an NBA analyst soon after its airing of the All-Star Game on Sunday, the Sports Business Journal has reported.

Barkley
Barkley

Barkley, who faces a drunken-driving charge after a Dec. 31 arrest, took a leave of absence last month. Test results revealed Barkley had a blood-alcohol level at .149, nearly twice the legal limit of .08 in Arizona.

The leave was for a minimum of several weeks, and Turner spokesman Jeff Pomeroy confirmed Monday that it will continue through All-Star weekend, when TNT usually draws some of its best ratings.

"It wasn't a hard decision for me to give him some time off to get his legal matters straight and to get his personal life in order," Turner Sports president David Levy said, according to the report. "The question is, when is the right time to bring him back? There is no magic answer to that. It's just a gut feel."

While waiting for results of the blood test, TNT considered suspending Barkley if the results showed his blood-alcohol content was over the legal limit, a source told ESPN.com.

The network has not chosen a specific date for his return to its "Inside the NBA" studio show, the Sports Business Journal reported, and plans are forthcoming as to how Barkley will address the incident.

"We haven't really thought about it, but I'm sure Charles will have something to say," Levy said. "What's really nice is that he's had so much support from a lot of people in this challenging time for him. He's humbled a little bit."

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