At the start of the day, TNT was gearing up for a big-time doubleheader of the Western Conference playoffs. The Inside the NBA crew, like they always are, was ready to be along for the ride. Then, everything changed.
First, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their Game 5 matchup against the Orlando Magic in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, and Portland Trail Blazers all followed. There would be no basketball on Wednesday night, but the show was still scheduled to go on.
As coverage shifted from NBA TV to TNT, the mood was obviously somber. Not playing games as a protest to racial injustice and police brutality was historic, even during a historic time filled with the NBA Bubble, coronavirus pandemic, and COVID-19 outbreak.
This is bigger than all of that, though. Watching yet another viral video of an innocent Black man being shot is something players, coaches, and fans alike are, to be blunt, fed up with. Something has to change, and boycotting games was the first course of action as the NBA looks to continue its unified front.
Sitting inside the Atlanta studio alongside host Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith felt the same.
Kenny Smith Walks Off “Inside the NBA” Set
Hearing NBA analyst Kenny “The Jet” Smith talk basketball and life is always refreshing. He has a certain charisma about him that demands attention. Yet, watching him walk off of the TNT set was perhaps the most powerful thing he has done in his career.
“Right now, my head is, like, ready to explode, just in the thoughts of what’s going on. I don’t know if I’m even appropriate enough to say it, what the players are feeling and how they’re feeling. I haven’t talked to any of the players. Even like driving here and getting into the studio, hearing calls and people talking. And for me, I think the biggest thing now… as a black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight.”Advertisement
As Smith finished his statement, he unplugged his microphone and added: “And figure out what happens after that. I just don’t feel equipped to do that.”
“And I respect that,” Johnson added.
Inside the NBA continued for approximately 30 more minutes before coverage shifted back to NBA TV.
Only time will tell what will happen next, but the teams, players, and Smith all made one thing crystal clear: enough is enough.