Charles Barkley and Wayne Gretzky are both part of the Turner Sports family
Charles Barkley and Wayne Gretzky became Turner colleagues this week. (Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
MEDIA

Turner Sports’ Busy Week: Wayne Gretzky, NBA Playoffs, & “The Match”

A lot has gone on at Turner Sports and WarnerMedia in just the past few days to enhance sporting calendar.

Like an octopus hopped up on caffeine and Adderall, Turner Sports and WarnerMedia have touched a whole lot of the sports media landscape over the last 10 days.

And on Wednesday morning, after another night of exciting night at the NBA Playoffs on TNT, the organization made a pair of major announcements that will impact the rest of 2021 and beyond in the world of sports.

The latest edition of “The Match,” a popular charity golf event, will air on July 6 on TNT live from Montana, pitting newly-minted PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson and reigning Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady against budding golf supervillain Bryson DeChambeau and reigning NFL MVP (and aspiring Jeopardy! host) Aaron Rodgers.

The match play event follows successful previous iterations featuring Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, Steph Curry, and Inside the NBA’s own Charles Barkley.

Count TB12 among those especially amped for the event.

You might even call his enthusiasm childlike.

The golf news arrives on the heels of Turner Sports revealing the top hosts and commentators for its new seven-year NHL media rights deal that begins this fall on TNT and TBS. Wayne Gretzky, the Great One himself, left his post as Vice Chairman of the Edmonton Oilers to serve as lead studio analyst — at a reported $3 million per season.

Meanwhile, NBC’s outgoing No. 1 duo of Kenny Albert and Eddie Olczyk will join as Turner’s lead NHL commentary team.

Of course, this is all carrying on concurrently with TNT’s award-winning NBA postseason coverage, which has showcased the Los Angeles Lakers tie their first-round series against the Phoenix Suns, the Brooklyn Nets dominate the Boston Celtics, the Memphis Grizzlies upset the Utah Jazz in Game 1 in just the past few days.

And don’t forget that Barkley giddily guaranteed a Milwaukee Bucks first-round sweep of the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat.

One wouldn’t be wrong to be curious about his pick for Phil and Tom vs. Bryson and Aaron.

That might actually be an event in itself. Every time the big man names a lock, it’s a ready-made viral moment.

All these developments took place up against the backdrop of parent company AT&T announcing that its WarnerMedia entity would merge with Discovery in a reported $43 billion deal just last week. This new company would feature brands like TNT, TBS, TruTV, Cartoon Network, CNN, HBO, Food Network, Animal Planet, and HGTV, and figures to exist on the same scale as Netflix and Disney in terms of total subscribers and reach.

Some may prefer to lay low and coast into Memorial Day weekend with umbrella drink in hand; Turner Sports and WarnerMedia decided to ratchet things up and give us an absolutely packed week in sports media.

And it’s not even over yet — Chuck could hand down more melodramatic guar-annnn-tees at any time.