Updated: Monday, 2 p.m.
What’s tougher to fix, Charles Barkley’s public image or his golf swing?
TNT announced today that Barkley will return from his leave of absence and be back on the air Thursday night during its NBA coverage.
“From the beginning, Charles recognized that he used poor judgment. He took full responsibility and apologized for his actions,” said David Levy, President of Turner Sports, in a network statement. “We look forward to having him back in the studio, where Charles will once again share his opinions, insights and humor with colleagues Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith. Collectively, they entertain a huge group of loyal fans that tunes into the NBA on TNT each week.”
TNT is showing San Antonio-Phoenix (5 p.m.) and Boston-Utah (7:30 p.m.) Thursday, with the “Inside the NBA” scheduled from 10 to 11 p.m.
Barkley was arrested Dec. 31 in Scottsdale, and his leave began Jan. 9. Police said the 45-year-old NBA Hall of Famer had a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit in Arizona.
The TNT studio analyst missed the network’s coverage of All-Star weekend in his hometown of Phoenix.
Meanwhile, in another Barkley-related note involving him swallowing his pride, the Golf Channel announced today that its reality show “The Haney Project” will start a seven-episode series on March 2 at 9 p.m. that involves golf instructor Hank Haney trying to work on Barkley’s golf swing.
Barkley agreed to doing the show last summer, and taping began in August.
“Charles’ swing is so recognizable, but for all the wrong reasons,” said Haney. “He’s a great athlete and extremely dedicated to working hard to get better. But I’ve taught more than 50,000 golf lessons, and this will be the biggest project.”