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ON SPORTS MEDIA

Charles Barkley will return to TNT, but after the NBA All-Star game

Suspended after his arrest on suspicion of drunk driving, the former basketball star won't be on-air for proceedings in Phoenix this weekend.

February 13, 2009|DIANE PUCIN | ON SPORTS MEDIA

Charles Barkley will be back on TNT sometime. Only it won't be during this NBA All-Star weekend in Phoenix, scene of the crime as it were after Barkley was arrested in nearby Scottsdale, Ariz., in December on suspicion of drunk driving.

Barkley hasn't been on TNT's "Inside the NBA" studio show since the arrest and, according to the Nielsen numbers, ratings have dropped about 38% during that time.

TNT officials will say only that Barkley will return to the show but not until sometime after the All-Star game.

Marv Albert knows how that is, to suffer professional repercussions because of a personal indiscretion.

It was more than a decade ago that Albert, who is now part of TNT's broadcast team in Phoenix, had to deal with his own time away from the air before a redemptive return to everyone's good graces.

"I don't have that big an ego -- that I would even think about giving Charles advice on this," Albert said.

"The thing about Charles is that, universally, he's been so nice to everyone around him, the people who work in the building, he joshes around with them, people out on the street, the fans, everyone, a lot of people don't like that kind of contact, but Charles always has.

"And I think that will serve him well when he comes back. Charles, he'll find a way to embrace this. A lot of guys hide and might not want to deal with it all, but Charles will."

Albert knows about comebacks. He was fired by NBC in 1997 after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge during a sexual assault trial filled with lurid details of hotel-room escapades. After receiving a suspended sentence and an order to undergo counseling, Albert joined TNT in 1999 to call NBA games and NBC rehired him in 2001.

"Fans are very forgiving and understanding," Albert said.

That's what Barkley hopes.

Angels everywhere

On many of the call-in shows on KLAA-AM (830) after Angels games last year, one of the first questions from fans would be: "I live in [name most any town in Los Angeles County] and I can't get the signal. Can't you get the games back on 710?"

Well, no, because the same thing happened when the games were on 710, except the callers were people who lived in Orange County, often within a few miles of Angel Stadium.

Last year, Angels owner Arte Moreno moved the team's radio broadcasts to the station he owns, 830. On Thursday, the Angels announced 110 games (all except weekend games) also will be on KFWB-AM (980), the Dodgers' flagship radio station from 2003 to 2007.

The Angels broadcast team remains the same -- Rory Markas, Terry Smith, Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler. Also, the CBS Radio-owned and -operated stations in the area, including KNX-AM (1070) and KRTH-FM (101.1), will help with in-game commercial advertising sales.

Back on the couch

ESPN analyst and former UCLA star Bill Walton is housebound again, recovering from his second back surgery in a year. Walton had the operation last Monday. His wife, Lori, said he's recovering well.

Good to watch Friday

It is NBA All-Star weekend, remember? The NBA is offering the All-Star celebrity game on ESPN at 4 p.m. and the rookie challenge and youth jam on TNT at 6 p.m.

Good to watch Saturday

How about some bull riding? NBC (1:30 p.m.) and Versus (5 p.m.) offer the PBR Express Classic from Oklahoma City.

It's breakfast with UCLA. For the second week in a row, the Bruins are on at 10 a.m., this time against Arizona on Channel 2.

And NBA All-Star Saturday night (dunking, three-point shooting, etc.) begins at 5:30 p.m. on TNT.

Good to watch Sunday

Start your engines at 11 a.m. for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500 on Channel 11; check out Lance Armstrong on Stage 2 of the Tour of California (from Davis to Santa Rosa) on Versus at 3 p.m.; catch USC at Arizona State at 7 p.m. on FS West in a game USC needs to help its NCAA tournament hopes. Oh, and the actual NBA All-Star game is at 5 p.m. on TNT.

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diane.pucin@latimes.com

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