Bill Simmons, in a nice little twitter rant this morning, seems to think Charles Barkley could be the ideal fit for a number of reasons, including one he left out: How great it would be for ESPN’s NBA Countdown crew not to have to be compared to the best pregame/postgame show in all of sports, Inside the NBA.
(The Barkley-to-Phoenix stuff started on the radio, then was picked up by the Arizona Republic.)
First, on his points on why Barkley makes sense – yes, it gives a franchise with arguably the most despised owner in the league a much needed boost. Also, Barkley is kind of a popular figure throughout the country, and would certainly boost optimism for a franchise where attendance is struggling (23rd in 2013 is the lowest as far back as ESPN’s numbers go, which is 2001).
But I wonder if the NBA would consider where Barkley is more valuable – on the wildly popular Inside the NBA during the season and in the playoffs – or in Phoenix? TNT and CBS are partners, and don’t forget about Barkley’s NCAA Tournament deal. Didn’t the network push Barkley into the college realm to boost interest during the tournament and especially for the Final 4? (Whether that plan worked is up for debate; I’d guess probably not, given penetrating analysis like this, which was mocked by ESPN’s Matt Doherty.)
Barkley-to-Phoenix is incredibly interesting, but not for the Suns so much as the TNT vs. ESPN pregame/post NBA battle. Barkley leaving would obviously be enormous for ESPN. I bet Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons are already high-fiving just at the possibility.