Charles Barkley has been on a leave of absence from his announcing duties with TNT since early January after his Dec. 31 arrest on suspicion of drunken driving in Scottsdale, Ariz.
I asked TNT officials on a pre-All-Star conference call last week if any decision had been made as to whether Barkley would return to the booth during All-Star weekend in his adopted hometown of Phoenix.
"Nothing has changed regarding Charles’ status," said Jeff Behnke, executive producer for Turner Sports. "He continues to be on a leave of absence and no date has been set for his return."
A person familiar with the situation said if a decision hasn't been made for Barkley's return by now, the chances he'll be part of TNT's All-Star coverage are remote. As difficult as it is to imagine the league's signature midseason event without the man who has become its signature voice and on-air personality, clearly some things take precedence. Like Charles getting his life back in order.
"There’s other things that are more important than All-Star weekend," TNT analyst Reggie Miller said. "Obviously, for himelf and for his family, this is time for them to take a step back and just re-evaluate things. The thing about the NBA and basketball, it’ll always be there. There’s bigger things in life to worry about."
It should surprise no one that Barkley's first public appearance since his arrest occurred on a golf course. Barkley kept his commitment to appear at a charity golf tournament Friday in Lakeland, Fla.
"Clearly, I made a mistake drinking and driving," Barkley told the Lakeland Ledger. "And I'm getting penalized for that, and rightfully so. "Drinking and driving is a very serious thing. It was stupid, and it was 100 percent my fault.'
According to the story, Barkley said his return to the booth is up to TNT.
Here's hoping that happens soon, but not a minute too soon.