Former NBA Players Who Are Now Sports Commentators

Former NBA Players Who Are Now Sports Commentators

Magic Johnson
Image: File

We’ve watched them dunk, do impressive basketball moves and win NBA championships.  After their ring-winning careers or record breaking resumes, these former hoopstars are now sports television personalities from a witty Charles Barkley to a soft-spoken Shaquille O’Neal. Here is a list of some of the best sports commentators.

1. Charles Barkley

Back in 2002, Sports Illustrated named the ex-Phoenix Suns power-forward as the “personality of the year.” Barkley, the 23rd all-time scorer in the NBA, has continued to depend on his charismatic personality to generate income even after his basketball days. The say-whatever-he-wants Barkley is an analyst for TNT’s Inside the NBA along with former basketball stars Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal. The show has about 1.8 million viewers, according to a Nielsen Media Research report. In 2002, the candid 51-year-old extended his contact with the network for a supposedly 1.5 million year. With his bald head and jolly temperament, Barkley’s television time has afforded him other money-making opportunities. In 2005, his nonfiction book, Who’s Afraid of a Large Black Man,” published by Penguin Press snagged a spot on The New York Times Bestseller List, raking in millions for Barkley.

2. Magic Johnson

He had too many options. The sports world was shocked when Johnson announced his decision to leave ESPN as a sports commentator on Oct. 2, 2014. In a classy business statement, the five-time NBA championed said the nature of his schedule prevented him from properly dedicating the time needed to the sports segments. The three-time MVP reportedly made more than $100 million from his 2010 sales of 105 Starbucks franchise, and he has ownership stakes with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. Forbes magazine considered him one of the highest-paid athletes. Sports analyst or not, Magic has continued making money!

3. Chris Webber

The five-time NBA All-Star has been called in to fill in for basketball legend Charles Barkley on the set of TNT’s Inside the NBA. Webber has been tight-lipped on how much he receives as Barkley’s substitute. His television appearances help keep his name in the headlines. Most recently, Webber was part of a potential ownership group that submitted a letter of interest to purchase the Atlanta Hawks, according to Yahoo Sports. The purchase would lift his financial gains by the millions. In Nov., Webber had the online fans and television viewers laughing as he gave a hilariously accurate impression of retired player and head coach, Avery Johnson.

4. Kenny “The Jet” Smith

Talk about reinventing oneself!  “The Jet” proudly boast about two things on his Twitter: “Championships and Emmys.” He is a co-host on TNT’s Inside the NBA. There are reports that TBS is plotting a reality series with the athlete. Smith could earn more than 1 million dollars.

5. Reggie Miller

He was the all-time leading scorer for the Indiana Pacers, but now Miller has a new title: game analyst for TNT. The ex-Pacers shooting guard has even changed his Twitter handle to match his new position. In Oct. 2014, ESPN and TNT retained the rights to show NBA games for the next nine years in a new deal, according to The deal is valued at $2.66 billion per year, reported to the New York Times. No word on how much Miller is receiving from TNT, but probably in the millions.

6. Shaquille O’Neal

On court he was an intimidating center, but on television the four-time NBA championship winner is soft-spoken and funny. Back in June, TNT added O’Neal to its pre-game and halftime “Inside the NBA” studio crew.