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Cut the Chord on Inside the NBA Before it Becomes Unwatchable

Regardless of your age, we can all agree that TNT’s Inside the NBA is the greatest TV talk show of all time. Few panelists can rival the electricity of Charles Barkley, Kenny “The Jet” Smith, Shaquille O’Neal, and Ernie Johnson. So it’s with a heavy heart I say that its end could be the best thing to happen to it… outside of wagering on these guys via our betting odds.


Cut the Chord on Inside the NBA Before it Becomes Unwatchable
Shaquille O'Neal/David Berding/Getty Images/AFP


Inside the NBA Leaves Cherished… For Now

“You either die a hero or live enough to see yourself become the villain”. This was attorney Harvey Dent’s classic quote as delivered by Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight. We see this as truth in both fiction –Dent later became the villain Two-Face– or in reality with O.J. Simpson and other star athletes falling from grace. At some point, our heroes become the bad guys. And the panel on Inside the NBA could turn into that.

Maybe this is a stretch as we’re comparing talking heads –at this stage in their careers– to comic books, convicted felons, and dictators in Julius Caesar’s case (who they referenced during the scene). But let’s dissect the panelists a bit more. They get away with a lot given their popularity.

Inside the NBA works because it’s an even split of personalities. You have Ernie Johnson as the tempered moderator while Kenny Smith is the “brains” of the crew. Johnson wrangles up the bunch when they get too derailed while Smith provides in-depth analysis and is often more objective than O’Neal or Barkley.

But Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley carry the show. Both are NBA legends and two of the largest personalities. Add their oversensitivity, penchant for mispronouncing names, and history of rivalry, and you often get childish dirt-throwing on-air. But hey! It is oodles more entertaining than 90% of NBA games of the past 20 years.

For our fans, we accept them for who they are. Most of us have grown up either watching them on the court or hearing them on Inside the NBA. But to everyone else, we have a sad group of has-beens, especially in “Shaq’s” and “Chuck’s” cases, being given free reins to say and do whatever they please with no repercussions.


The Side of Inside the NBA Nobody Wants to Talk About

Nobody’s perfect. Sometimes we see O’Neal’s and Barkley’s flaws openly on the air. The former gets sensitive about almost anything. He is a terrible analyst and has one strategy in mind: win by brute force. O’Neal is also notorious for being petty, jealous, and hating on anyone who disagrees with anything he says. If O’Neal was a woman he’d be the most hated figure in the sports media world. Or he’d be on The View.

But other than that, O’Neal has kept it relatively clean off-camera. You don’t see him in any scandals or unflattering news reports. We can’t say the same for Barkley.

Barkley’s been in many unsavory scenes such as condoning the killing of Breonna Taylor or threatening to hit a female reporter. He’s also been arrested while driving under the influence (DUI).

Smith has nearly been squeaky clean. You’d expect that from the “voice of reason” among the three. But during the 2024 NBA All-Star Weekend, he exposed what sounded like sexist beliefs.

The former Rocket consistently complained about WNBA star Sabrina Ionescu during the 3-point contest between her and Stephen Curry. He also whined about how Ionescu should have “shot from the women’s line” on top of saying it’s “unfair” that she uses a WNBA ball. So which one is it, Mr. Smith?

The Jet was horrendous, and his comments overshadowed what should have been a special moment. Even NBA superstar Joel Embiid alleged Smith was “drinking” during the telecast.


The Future of Inside the NBA

We may have seen the last of Inside the NBA following this Western Conference Finals. This is, unless Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent company of TNT, can outbid NBC’s $2.5 billion offer to the NBA. Either that or Adam Silver and the league choose to do something about it.

The NBA Commissioner said that the NBA and TNT are “still in discussions” and they have not nixed anything yet (as of May 28 evening).

“We’re never gonna lose Charles and Kenny. They’re always going to be covering the NBA,” Silver said.

The “Three Musketeers” could go on and succeed in starting their show given their status. They could even be the subject of the next Netflix roast if you check our sportsbook’s odds. Either way, we have not seen the last of these friends. They’ll continue to entertain us until we all get tired of them. And maybe we won’t.


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Questions Of The Day

What are the odds of Inside the NBA being the next Netflix roast?

Shaquille O’Neal has the shortest odds at +250 to be the next athlete given a ‘Roast’. Charles Barkley is next at +600.



The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.

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