My litmus test for friendship is simple: Do you like "Inside The NBA"? We'll have a bond stronger than brothers if the answer is yes. No? Prepare for the coldest shoulder this side of the equator.
TNT's marquee NBA program is without a doubt the best sports show on television. Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley form a hilarious bunch that offers as much entertainment as analysis. Let's be honest, though. Sure, seeing the crew break down hoops and chatting with NBA players is insightful, but their antics are what make the show can't miss TV.
I come for anecdotes like Shaq meeting Stevie Wonder in an elevator and Chuck getting a bracelet from a random guy in a steam room. I stay for Chuck berating Kevin Durant and Shaq faceplanting in one of his few efforts trying to beat Kenny to the big board. There's no question O'Neal and Barkley are the largest personalities on the show (literally), but Ernie has the tall task of keeping everyone on track and Kenny knows when to interject and can laugh at himself. The magic just doesn't come from them, either. The social team has a keen eye for hysterical tweets between segments, too. It's chemistry at its finest from the top down.
As you can see, The Inside Guys have made us laugh plenty since they became a foursome in 2011, and this year was no different. Let's take a look at the funniest moments from the 2021-22 season.
Best "Inside the NBA" Moments, 2021-22 Season
10. Chuck Gets a Championship Trophy After Beating Kenny to the Board
The "Inside the NBA" crew are never shy about reminding Charles Barkley he didn't win a championship. I don't care that It's a low-hanging fruit because this particular low-hanging fruit never loses its flavor. Anyway, during halftime of an early season game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz, Charles pulled off the impossible and beat Kenny to the board to break down film. Shaq congratulated him by giving him some hardware that's a dead ringer for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Charles went on to deliver an impassioned thank-you speech. You're not human if it doesn't bring a tear to your eye.
9. The Big Shill
Shaq has done a lot of things throughout his career: he's snatched souls with thunderous dunks, he's made a platinum rap album, he's created his own video game, he's earned a doctorate degree, but one thing he's never done is sell out. He will never attach his name to a product no matter how big the paycheck. However, in the rare instance he has, another version of "EJ's Neato Stat of The Night" played a game where Chuck and Kenny had to determine whether a product was really one Shaq endorsed or a fake.
I'll let you watch to see the answers yourself. Let's just say the 15-time NBA All-Star's business ventures range far and wide.
8. Kenny Beats Chuck to the Board in a Photo Finish
There's a reason they call Kenny "The Jet." He holds the distinction of being fastest guy on the team that consists of a 65-year old, a 7-foot-1, 350-pound giant and sweet-feet Charles Barkley. I wouldn't be shocked if the board in Atlanta's Studio J is registered in his name because he almost always wins the heated races. Shaq and Chuck will give him a run for his money every once in a while, though.
Barkley decided to go for it during halftime of Game 4 of the first-round NBA playoff series between the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks. Kenny was finishing up his piece when Chuck saw an opportunity to beat him at his own game. "The Jet" saw right through it and took off. In a blink-or-you-miss-it race, Kenny ended up winning by a split second.
Barkley running never fails to make me chuckle.
7. The Whisper Challenge
For the unitiated, the Whisper Challenge is when someone wears headphones and tries to read the lips of another person saying a particular word or phrase. The king of keeping a straight face, Jimmy Fallon, has made it popular throughout the years by doing it with guests on his show. The Inside crew gave it a shot in December of last year.
Shaq and Ernie teamed up against Kenny and Chuck. Ernie and Kenny were the readers while Shaq and Chuck wore the headphones. Shaq ended up going a perfect 10 for 10, but we're still waiting on the authenticity of his results because his headphone placement may be in question. Chuck did well, too. He was locked in like when he won his first NBA championship and got most of his answers. However, he refused to say "Roll Tide!" like any Auburn alum would.
6. Shaq Rocks Cowboy Hat After Mavericks Make Western Conference Finals
The Dallas Mavericks beating the Phoenix Suns in Western Conference semifinals was a surprise in itself, but no one saw the Mavs' 33-point beatdown in Game 7 coming. Shaq gave props to Luka Doncic and the Mavericks by rocking a black cowboy hat during the postgame show.
There's nothing specific here. Shaq wearing a hat 20 times too small for him will always be hilarious to me no matter the context.
5. Chuck: "[Zion Williamson] Looks Like Me and Shaq Had a Baby"
RELATED: Comedian's Viral Charles Barkley Impression is Spot-On Hilarious
Have you ever wondered what a Shaq and Chuck baby would look like? Look no further than New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson. The young superstar, who allegedly reported to training camp at 330 pounds and didn't play at all this year, warmed up for an early season game against the Phoenix Suns and looked a tad meatier than usual.
Host Adam Lefkoe, who was filling in for Johnson because of his son's death, asked the crew their thoughts on the footage.
"Looks like me and Shaq had a baby," Chuck said.
4. The Inside Guys & Their Dopplegängers
A mid-season "EJ's Neato Stat of The Night" revisited a portrait Kenny saw in a barbershop that looked suspiciously like Chuck. The NBA on TNT social media team asked fans to help find Sir Charles' dopplegänger, and while they weren't able to track him down, their investigation did find look-a-likes for the rest of the crew.
Ernie's was a haired version of who I assume was a D-list Alex Caruso. Shaq disagreed that his was Shrek because of his stunning good looks. Kenny's was a French Bulldog standing on his hind legs. The crew erupted with laughter during Kenny's reveal because it was a callback to a fan tweet sent into the show during the NBA Bubble in 2020.
Kenny the Jet Smith running to the video wall in his skinny suit pants @NBAonTNT #NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/nAmVbdgWgy
— Vasu Kulkarni (@Vasu) August 25, 2020
Shaq lost it as much here as he did when the original tweet aired.
3. Shaq Tries to Get Hawk to Attack Chuck
Apparently Shaq is an amateur bird caller in his spare time. I was shocked to learn a hawk, duck and eagle weren't in the studio during Shaq's squawks. Turns out I was wrong.
An actual 47-year-old hawk named Lobo was brought onto the set to harmonize with Shaq. The Big Aristotle wasn't about it though and slowly snuck his way over to Chuck's side of the table to bait the hawk into landing on him. His uncanny call unfortunately wasn't enough to attract Lobo, but it was hilarious nonetheless.
2. Charles Barkley's Major at Auburn
"They played music and I said 'I appreciate it.'" ?
Chuck recalls his days as a "Music Appreciation" student in college. pic.twitter.com/ZtDrQkLeNU
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 10, 2022
Charles Barkley was a student first and foremost during his college career at Auburn. His major? Music appreciation.
"They played music and I said 'I appreciate it'", he said.
It's reassuring Chuck is in the majority of us who don't work in the field they got their degree in.
1. Shaq's Gas Math
This is ? and I can?t stress this enough ? the greatest segment to come from a sports broadcast that I have ever seen in my entire life pic.twitter.com/H8sBOZzbhX
— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) March 7, 2022
Have you ever avoided purchasing a car because of the gas mileage? You don't want to be at the pump every time you go for a drive, let alone spend a fortune to fill up the tank?
Shaquille O'Neal has a solution for you.
Kenny Smith was discussing getting a new car with Shaq and said he was apprehensive because it would cost $80 to fill the tank. Shaq's advice was to put in $20 when the tank is at half to bring it back full capacity. The logic? You only spend $80 when the tank is empty. As long as you put in $20 when the tank is at half capacity, you defeat the problem.
Kenny retorted by saying he would still be spending the same amount. Shaq responded by saying Kenny only has to fill up once every two weeks, thus making the issue obsolete.
Our stats and info department is still working out the math, but Shaq being dead set on his reasoning made for phenomenal television. Ernie Johnson's face palm was the cherry on top.
MORE: Ernie Johnson Sr. Was Teammates With Hank Aaron & Became a Broadcasting Legend Before His Son
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