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Inside the NBA

Inside The NBA
Inside the NBA logo
Starring Ernie Johnson Jr.
Charles Barkley
Kenny Smith
Shaquille O'Neal
Chris Webber
David Aldridge
Country of origin United States
Location(s) Turner Studio J
Atlanta, Georgia
Running time 30–60 minutes
Original channel TNT (1988–present)
NBA TV (2003–present)
Original release November 1, 1988

Inside the NBA is the postgame show for NBA on TNT broadcasts. The program features host Ernie Johnson with analysts Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal. Occasionally, Johnson, Smith, Barkley, and O'Neal are joined by analysts Chris Webber and Grant Hill. The show has won nine Emmy Awards, Ernie has won three as a studio host and Charles Barkley has won two as a studio analyst.


Inside the NBA has gained popularity in recent years for the chemistry and banter of the hosts, particularly since Barkley joined the show in 2001.

Barkley has been known for his controversial comments and outrageous bets. During the 2006 NBA Playoffs, in response to performer David Blaine's attempt to stay under water for nine minutes, Barkley duplicated the stunt with a small tub of water but only managed to stay under water for 24 seconds. In late 2002, Barkley told Kenny Smith that he would "kiss [his] ass" if Houston Rockets then-rookie Yao Ming scored nineteen points in a game,[1] which was followed by Yao doing exactly that later that week. As a result, on Listen Up! With Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson that Thursday, Barkley kissed the rear end of a donkey that Smith brought into the studio. Barkley has also been weighed on air several times, and once said "bullshit" live on air. In 2002, a controversial Sports Illustrated cover, in which Barkley was portrayed in chains (as a slave),[2] led to a sometimes heated debate on the TNT studio show. Following the release of Django Unchained, Barkley will joke he isn't going to take it any more master, referring to Ernie Johnson. Johnson has a whip sound effect he uses when Barkley or Shaq's conversations go far off topic. Smith has also been the brunt of jokes before, an example being the "retirement" of his jersey on air. In reality, it was a Tracy McGrady jersey with Smith's name put on a clothesline and "raised" to the TNT studio roof on a clothesline with various undergarments. Most of the jokes were featured as Ernie Johnson's E.J.'s Neat-O Stat of the Night, the show's closing segment.

The popularity of the program has led the NBA to air reruns of the show (as well as reruns other TNT NBA studio programs, NBA Tip-Off, the Sprint Halftime Report and the Southwest Airlines Game Break) on the TNT Overtime on

Catchphrases and quotes

  • "Win or go home" – The main tagline TNT uses for its playoff coverage. With rounds in the NBA Playoffs conducted in a best-of-seven format, the statement carries more weight in meaning as a series extends to its finale. For all of TNT's Game 7s — Dallas-Sacramento in 2003; Miami-New Orleans and Sacramento-Minnesota in 2004; Indiana-Boston, Dallas-Houston and Detroit-Miami in 2005; L.A. Lakers-Phoenix Suns, San Antonio-Dallas and L.A. Clippers-Phoenix in 2006; a May 3 triple-header of Atlanta-Indiana, Memphis-Oklahoma City, and Golden State-L.A. Clippers in 2014; and San Antonio-L.A. Clippers in 2015 — the phrase has been used in the pregame montage and in the graphics during the game.
  • "Gone fishin'" – The most notable of TNT's catchphrases. It is used whenever a team is knocked out of the playoffs (or a team failed to make the playoffs), and is usually accompanied by doctored photos of players on the team on fishing boats with analyst Kenny Smith. Reportedly, it has its roots in the 90s - when the Suns had a chance to eliminate a team, their gorilla mascot would have a fishing pole on hand to indicate the opponents would be "gone fishin'". Occasionally, Barkley or Smith will wear fishing hats when they anticipate a team's elimination from the playoffs. In addition to players, notable figures from the city of the eliminated team often show up (e.g., Condoleezza Rice, who was doctored into a Gone Fishin' photo after the Washington Wizards were eliminated from the 2005 playoffs). The catchphrase has gotten popular enough to warrant its own page on[3] and has also become a metaphor for being eliminated from the playoffs. TBS uses similar phrase for when a team gets knocked out of the MLB playoffs, called "Gone huntin'".[4]
  • "My big fat obnoxious boss" – Barkley's nickname for Inside the NBA producer Tim Kiely; the term is a takeoff on the short-lived FOX television show with the same name.
  • "BIRDMAN BIRDMAN" - O'Neal's call for Miami Heat center Chris Andersen.
  • "Ginobili!" - Barkley's call for San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.[5]
  • "Underdog, put that on a T-Shirt!" O'Neal's common catchphrase towards Senior Researcher Joe "Underdog" Underhill. Whenever a snide or humorous remark is made by the crew, this quote is constantly used by O'Neal or stated in a different way at times to fit the context (ex. "Underdog, put that on a Valentine's Day card!" if something funny is said during or near Valentine's Day). It has even been made as an actual T-shirt.
  • "JAVALE MCGEE!" - O'Neal's call for Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee.

Recurring Segments

  • Shaqtin' a Fool - A blooper segment started by O'Neal when he joined the show in 2012 that has become popular since. Frequent nominees include JaVale McGee, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Young, although even All-Stars like LeBron James, Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook have been featured.
  • EJ's Neat-O Stat of the Night - The traditional ending segment, sometimes noted for its lack of continued sponsorship (if there is no sponsor, the phrase, "Presented one," is used.) It can sometimes feature interesting or humorous stats, but it can also eschew the stats in favor of a humorous segment. Some examples include...
    • The presentation of a Justice League comic made specially by DC Comics for NBA All-Star Weekend 2014 featuring Superman, Green Lantern, Flash and Steel (who O'Neal once played in a movie) and guest-starring O'Neal, Barkley, Smith and Johnson.[6]
    • A segment featuring Kobe Bryant where Smith tried to duplicate Bryant putting on Nikes and jumping over a speeding car.[7]
    • Who He Play For?, A start-of-season customary game where Barkley is challenged to name the new teams of a number of NBA journeymen.
    • A segment reminiscent of a scene in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy where Johnson pulled a Teleprompter prank on Barkley.[8]

Charles Barkley

Barkley and Kobe Bryant

Barkley came under fire by some in 2006, due to his criticism of Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant. After Game 6 of the Lakers' first round series against the Phoenix Suns (when Bryant scored 50 points and the Lakers lost in overtime), Barkley criticized him for scoring too much and not getting his teammates involved. After Game 7 of the same series (when Bryant did not score and hardly attempted any shots in the second half), Barkley ripped him for being unselfish. Some columnists thought that Barkley was being hypocritical.[9][10] Bryant and Barkley exchanged several text messages about the issue,[11] and during the second round of the playoffs, Bryant appeared on TNT's studio show. Bryant and Barkley had a mild debate about the issue, and some observers thought that Barkley was too easy on Bryant, considering his previous comments about him.[12]

Race with Dick Bavetta

While filling in for an injured Steve Kerr on a Los Angeles Lakers-Sacramento Kings broadcast,[13] Charles Barkley made disparaging comments about the age of referee Dick Bavetta.[14] The conversation between Barkley and play-by-play man Marv Albert eventually led him to comment that he could outrun Bavetta, and any other man of his age (Bavetta was 67 at the time).

This led Johnson and Smith to note that Bavetta, a physically fit referee whose job required him to run up and down the court on a nightly basis, would likely beat Barkley in a race. Bavetta challenged Barkley to a footrace, which was then scheduled for the upcoming All-Star Weekend.

The race was heavily hyped on the Internet, receiving some mainstream attention as well. Several NBA players weighed in with predictions, and the overwhelming majority picked Bavetta to win the race.[15][16]

Despite being the underdog, Barkley won the race by a comfortable margin. Both men ended up falling after the race; Bavetta dove for the finish line, and Barkley stumbled backwards and fell upon victory. With the race decided, the two exchanged a friendly hug. The race raised $50,000 for charity, and All-Star Saturday Night on TNT drew its highest number of television households in its twenty-two-year history.[17]

Oakland "controversy"

During the 2007 NBA Playoffs, following the Golden State Warriors' upset of the Dallas Mavericks, Barkley made some degrading comments about Oakland, California, saying things such as "it makes me mad, mad that they're in Golden State and not LA" and "it's not a city". In response, the scoreboard at the Oracle Arena began showing a graphic of the Warriors' mascot throwing a pie at Barkley.

Oakland native and NBA legend Gary Payton, in his trademark competitive, trash-talking style, went around Oakland with a video camera to rebuke some of Barkley's comments and get some of the locals' opinions on Barkley and his comments, with Payton providing some of his own comments about "Sir Charles" and providing quips such as "It ain't no thrift store, it's Oakland". The humorous segment, which also included embarrassing vintage coverage of Barkley being dunked on in a game against Golden State, aired during Inside the NBA's playoff coverage of the series between the Warriors and the Utah Jazz. The clip culminated with a shot of Payton standing in front of the San Francisco Bay saying "How do you feel about my city now, Chuck? ... Now, come see me, in person, here. I've got a surprise for you, too, a lot of Krispy Kreme donuts."[18] The humorous controversy was subsequently put to rest.