Kelenna Azubuike to be Warriors TV game analyst; Jim Barnett to radio

NBC Sports Bay Area

Kelenna Azubuike to be Warriors TV game analyst; Jim Barnett to radio

When the Warriors make their regular-season debut at Chase Center in October, there will be plenty of new faces, beginning with the team’s roster. The same will apply to their telecasts and radio broadcasts.

Kelenna Azubuike, a member of the “We Believe” Warriors of 2006-07, is joining the squad as an analyst working alongside longtime NBC Sports Bay Area play-by-man voice Bob Fitzgerald.

And, no, Jim Barnett is not retiring.

Barnett will return for his 35th season providing opinion and insights, but his medium will change. He is moving to the radio booth to team up with longtime radio voice Tim Roye on 95.7 FM The Game.

“I think it’s fantastic that I can continue working for the Warriors,” Barnett said Friday. “I’m very grateful for everything I’ve had over the years. Tim is a really good guy, and does a great job. I’m looking forward to it.”

It’s important to note that while Azubuike is moving into the seat Barnett occupied for 34 years, he owes a debt of gratitude to Barnett, who entered broadcasting nine years after his retirement in 1977.

“Jim was actually one of the first people I talked to when I was thinking about getting into broadcasting,” said Azubuike, who retired in 2012. “He actually connected me with NBC Sports Bay Area. If not for him, who knows where I’d be. So, I’m eternally grateful.”

Said Barnett: “I’m glad I was able to help him get into this profession. He’s very capable and he’s a class guy. There’s no one more deserving.”

Azubuike, 35, has spent the last four seasons mostly as a studio analyst at NBC Sports Bay Area while also occasionally providing analysis on radio alongside Roye.

“We think Kelenna is one of the bright, young stars in the broadcasting business,” Warriors president/COO Rick Welts said in a statement issued by the team. “He’s done an outstanding job the last few seasons as a member of our pre, halftime and post-game shows on NBC Sports Bay Area, and his familiarity with our team, our players and our fans dating back to the ‘We Believe’ days will serve him well in this new role.

“His presence will add a new dimension to our TV broadcasts, and we are thrilled with the addition.”

Though Azubuike’s style will differ a bit from that of Barnett – a natural, given the generational gap – one thing that won’t change is honesty and objectivity. Barnett was willing to criticize when the situation called for it, and Azubuike expects to do the same.

“I enjoy breaking down what I see and just reacting on the spot,” he said. “It is kind of whole new thing when compared with the studio. In the studio, we talk about what we think is going to happen (in Warriors Pregame), or our interpretation of what has happened (in Warriors Postgame). But when you’re doing color commentary, you’re reacting on the spot. It’s fun.”

Barnett, 75, has on numerous occasions worked with Roye on radio, usually in postseason games on national TV.

“I’ve had a great run of 34 years on TV,” Barnett said. “And now I’m going to work radio. It’s a natural for me and it’s a nice transition. I’m grateful that the Warriors are giving me a contract to do this.

“You know one of nicest things about working radio? You don’t have to put on makeup.”

Barnett’s continued involvement is sure to be embraced by fans, who have grown accustomed to his knowledgeable point of view and ability to articulate the nuances within the game.

“Jim has been a fixture on our broadcast team for over three decades and has served as a comforting and trusted voice for our fans during several different eras of Warriors basketball,” Welts said in the statement. “From Sleepy Floyd’s incredible playoff performance in 1987 to our most recent stretch that has included three championships and five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, his outstanding work has been an everyday staple on the airwaves.”

[RELATED: Where Livingston wants to end career after Warriors release]

Both Azubuike and Barnett will travel with the team for road games. Both also are scheduled to join Fitzgerald for the first telecast from Chase Center.

“A huge thank you to the NBC Sports Bay Area for preparing me for this,” said Azubuike, who has done color commentary for multiple media outlets. “And I’m grateful to the Warriors, to (co-owners) Joe Lacob and Peter Guber for giving me this opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to it. I’m so pumped. The season can’t come fast enough.”

Draymond Green, Charles Barkley team up on new TV show 'The Arena'

Draymond Green, Charles Barkley team up on new TV show 'The Arena'

Draymond Green and Charles Barkley are about to be on the same team.

The Warriors forward and NBA Hall of Famer will be part of a panel on TNT's new show "The Arena," which will debut July 20.

Draymond and Barkley -- who have attacked each other publicly over the years -- will be joined by host Cari Champion and 2006 NBA Finals MVP, Dwyane Wade.

"The cinematic features will examine the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter, systemic racial injustices and the changing landscape of society since the NBA postponed play through the point of view of players, NBA teams, their fans and communities," per a press release. "The five-part series will also include contributions from leading voices in sports and entertainment, such as renowned journalist Jemele Hill, rapper and activist Killer Mike, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Lesley Chilcott, among others."

Some very serious conversations will be had, so it'll be interesting to see if Draymond and Barkley address and/or laugh at their past beef.

[RELATED: Barkley fires back at Draymond by using boy band analogy]

It's possible they avoid it altogether and solely focus on the much more important topics at hand.

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[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Nick Wright claims LeBron James gets two rings for beating 2016 Warriors

Nick Wright claims LeBron James gets two rings for beating 2016 Warriors

Nick Wright will say anything to try to buttress his belief that LeBron James is the best basketball player of all time.

And the very opinionated TV personality went to the extreme Monday on his Fox Sports 1 morning show "First Things First."

"I'm making a proclamation today. Everyone always tries to say, 'Six rings, six rings -- LeBron can't be the greatest ever until he has six rings.' It's a facile argument but I'll engage in it for this moment," he said. "We all know LeBron officially-unofficially got credit for two rings when he came from 3-1 down and beat a 73-win (Warriors) team -- sent Draymond (Green) crying to his car to call Kevin Durant. So right now he's at four.

"Before the stoppage happened, the Lakers were playing their best ball of the season. They get thrown off course, Giannis (Antetokounmpo) is able to get healthy, other things happen that make it harder. Then they lose (Avery) Bradley, now they've lost (Rajon) Rondo.

"When they win the title this year, it counts as another two -- which means LeBron and (Michael) Jordan will both have six rings."

Yes, this actually happened.

[RUNNIN' PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Conventional wisdom says Wright was 100 percent kidding, and simply got on his soapbox for entertainment purposes. But with him, he probably just was 97 percent joking.

And since Wright mentioned Draymond, here is a friendly reminder: In the 2016 NBA Finals, LeBron averaged 24.8 points, 8.3 assists and 5.8 turnovers the first four games. Then, everything changed when Draymond was suspended for Game 5. Over the final three games of the series, LeBron averaged 36.3 points, 9.7 assists and 2.7 turnovers.

[RELATED: Draymond reveals team he sees as favorite to win NBA title]

It also didn't help that Andrew Bogut missed Games 6 and 7, and that Harrison Barnes went 5-for-32 from the field over the final three games. But we digress. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the series and that's a scientific fact.

You want another fact? LeBron has won three championships and he will have four if the Los Angeles Lakers capture this season's title in Orlando.

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