Charles Barkley to sit out following arrest

Taking leave of absence from TNT basketball duties

NEW YORK -- Former NBA star and TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley is taking a leave of absence from the network following his New Year's Eve arrest on suspicion of drunk driving.

Barkley had been stopped by a police officer in Scottsdale, Ariz., for failing to stop at a stop sign. Police said Friday that the 45-year-old's blood-alcohol level was 0.149 at the time of his arrest, above Arizona's legal limit of 0.08. The Associated Press quoted a police officer saying that 0.150 is "extreme inebriation." Barkley had initially refused a blood test but later relented.

Turner Sports president David Levy said in a statement Friday that Barkley would take a leave of absence from his duties at Turner. There has been no word on the length of his leave of absence.

"When I spoke with Charles, he was apologetic for the events that transpired and it was obvious he understood the significance of this situation," Levy said. "This is an important time for Charles as he deals with the legal and personal issues that confront him." Levy said that Barkley had hired a lawyer.

No stranger to controversy either on or off the court, Barkley has since 2000 been a studio analyst for Turner's pregame and halftime telecasts. As a television star, however, Barkley has shined for Turner on the Emmy-winning "Inside the NBA."

"Charles is a valued part of the Turner Sports organization and we are concerned for his well-being," Levy said.