Posts Tagged ‘Charles Barkley’

Talk Show: Ernie Johnson

Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat - Game Two

NEW YORK CITY — Tonight’s tip-off of the NBA on TNT marks not only the 31st year that Turner Sports has been involved with the NBA, but also the 25th year that Ernie Johnson has been the man in the middle of it all. As the host of “Inside the NBA,” TNT’s award-winning studio show, Johnson maintains a semblance of control over a panel featuring Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal, during what usually turns into a free-wheeling free-for-all at the end of a long night of games. With the TNT crew in New York City for their season tip-off show tonight live from Times Square, I sat down with EJ yesterday to talk about Inside’s wild ride.

ME: I saw a clip the other day of Charles and you together in the studio, maybe for the first time, back in the early ’90s.

JOHNSON: Yeah, when he was still playing.

ME: Right. And his voice was completely different …

JOHNSON: Oh, I know! “These two teams have some hostility …” He wasn’t The Chuckster.

ME: When he started regularly on “Inside” 15 years ago now, was he closer to what we see now than what we saw in that old clip?

JOHNSON: Yeah, I thought so. Back then, when he was a player, and I think you see this a lot, players aren’t going to say anything while they’re still playing that might get to somebody. If we’re showing video of somebody in a fight and he says, “Those are two guys who couldn’t break a pane of glass,” then he’s going to hear it next he’s playing against them. I think by the time he got to us — that was probably ’92 or ’93 that first time — he had become the most quotable guy in the league, all-interview team. So all of that built up to when he’s done playing, he had to be on TV and hopefully he would be with us. He’s closer to this than he was to that at the start, if that makes any sense.

ME: Whenever I come by the studios in Atlanta, you’re there in your office hours ahead of being on the air. What is a day like for you? How do you prepare?

JOHNSON: I try to be there 6-7 hours before we go on the air. And I think it’s all because after this many years you get a repetition and you know what a game day is like. It’s not unlike a player’s game day ritual. A player’s going to eat at this time and get to the arena by this time. Like Alex Gordon of the Royals, he’s got this game day regimen where he’s at the ballpark by noon, and he’s working out until this time, he’s got a stopwatch, he’s doing this, doing this, doing this. And I kind of have that same deal, where I use this time to recap last night for my files, I need this time to read the articles from around the country about the teams that are playing tonight, then we have the production meeting, so … it all falls out from that. To me it’s always been about the preparation, and if the day comes when you don’t want to do all the prep work, it’s time for me to say, later. But that hasn’t happened. I still love that. That’s the work. The show is fun, the prep is all the work, and if that prep ever gets to the point where I don’t feel like doing it, I need to check out.


VIDEO: NBA Rookies: Inside Inside

ME: I read an interview with you recently where you said your role on the show is basically being a rogue traffic cop.

JOHNSON: That was that Rolling Stone interview.

ME: Right. You’re usually the one asking the questions of the analysts and the players, but you have opinions yourself and you’ve been doing this 25 years, so, let me ask you, who do you think wins the West and the East this season?

JOHNSON: I think Chicago would be the favorite right now, and I think San Antonio would be the team to beat in the West right now, but again, so many things happen. You know, Kawhi Leonard has played one preseason game and now he’s got this eye thing, so, you don’t know. And Kevin Durant, does he come back 100-percent, or is that something that nags him? So that’s why it’s hard to do that. And you know what? I will share my opinions on that show when I feel like I need to. I got three guys here who have been in every conceivable NBA situation. They’re the ones who fans want to hear from. Sometimes you can tell how I feel because I’m going to throw a question out there that reflects where I’m coming from. But then like in a league-wide situation, I wasn’t hesitant at all to speak out on the Donald Sterling thing last year. That first day I said, “Look, if those are his words, the league has no place for him.” I think knowing your role is a big part of that, and knowing how to get these guys where they want to be, and knowing that if I ask Shaq this, Charles is going to broadside him, that’s where the rogue traffic cop comes in.

ME: How has it changed through the years about working with these three guys?

JOHNSON: I don’t think it’s changed very much. The first night that we ever did a show, Kenny and Charles walked out, and Charles asked Kenny what he was going to say about something, and Kenny said, “You’ll find out.” And that hasn’t changed. That’s been the way we do business. We’ve never said, like, “Hey this year why don’t we have everybody in the production meeting and rehearse each segment twice so we know exactly how long it’s going to last.” That would kill the show. It’s continued in what it does well, and that’s spontaneous, off-the-cuff, unrehearsed, unpredictable. And so no, I don’t think we’ve changed a whole lot.

ME: I guess the most obvious change was when you added Shaq a few years ago.

JOHNSON: You bring Shaq into that dynamic, and he’s the world’s biggest kid. I think what got his attention about the show is all the fun that we have, all the laughs, and that’s what he likes to do. As soon as got a grip on the fact that he had to do some homework. And I told him that the first couple months we all worked together. I said, “As much funny stuff as Chuck says and as outrageous as some of the stuff might be, he comes to the studio every night with at least five things he wants to unload before the night’s over. So do the same thing. Have a take on this team or that team.” And he’s done that. The three guys are so different and come at it from different perspectives, and it’s up to me to move it around.

ME: Charles said he doesn’t know how much longer he’ll do this. How long do you think you guys can keep this up?

JOHNSON: I didn’t think we’d be here today. Because what was it, 2000 when we started? I thought, you know what, when the novelty wears off for Charles, whatever time we can get and have the chance to work together, it’ll be fun. I never thought that coming into the 2014-15 season, we’d be talking about, “Here comes another year with all of us.” And then adding Shaq the last few. In this business you never have the next show guaranteed. And so, I always think whatever we’ve done has been a blessing to do it. Believe me, when we sit out there to get ready to do a show, there’s not a time you don’t look around at these guys and say, “Do you know how many people would like to be sitting in my chair?”

Denver Nuggets mascot makes unsanctioned political appearance

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Sports mascots are, at their core, a conduit for fun. They are their team’s common denominators, a representative of every fan, from the front row to the cheap seats. But out in Denver, longtime Nuggets mascot Rocky the mountain lion made an off-court appearance this week that caught some people by surprise, apparently including his employers.

Earlier this week, Rocky made an appearance at a Colorado Republican rally. As the Denver Post reports

Nuggets marketing manager Graham Wincott, who handles Rocky and his appearances, said the team’s mascot showing up at the GOP event was “an unsanctioned, unpaid appearance that we had no knowledge of.”

Denver sports figures have been to political events in the past, but sports teams and organizations typically stay away from any kind of political endorsements or appearances, which is why the Kroenke brass was surprised by the appearance.

“As a sports team, we want to be apolitical,” Wincott said. “Two things we never touch on are politics and religion.”

The Nuggets’ mascot was bouncing around at the Colorado Republican Party rally Monday at Heritage High School. Top players on the Colorado GOP ticket were at the event, which included 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Wincott said the KSE management team met Tuesday “with the actor who plays Rocky to figure out exactly how it happened and what transpired and get to the bottom of how all this occurred.”

If nothing else, this gives us a chance to check out some of Rocky’s greatest hits, like his recent dust-up with Russell Westbrook or, as in the video below, a classic run-in with his longtime nemesis, Charles Barkley


VIDEO: Rocky vs Lakers/Barkley

NBA People Throwing First Pitches (Pt. 1)

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — All summer long, we’ve seen NBA players throwing out the ceremonial first pitches at baseball games. Not just major league games, and not just from active NBA players, but from NBA-related folks (coaches, retired players) all over the place.

I’ve been collecting these videos for a few months, and now we present them, all of them, in several parts, because there’s a lot to get through.

And so, here are a bunch of NBA people throwing out the first pitch at baseball games…

PART ONE | PART TWO | PART THREE

JOAKIM NOAH
There has been a strong Bulls presence on the mounds. We catch Joakim first at a White Sox game, where he took two tries to get it right. Because it’s important to get it right.


VIDEO: Noah White Sox

Then, a few days later, Noah tried it again across town at Wrigley Field for a Cubs game, where things went much better…


VIDEO: Noah Cubs

PAU GASOL AND NIKOLA MIROTIC
Two new Bulls stopped by a White Sox game and tossed consecutive first pitches. Both went pretty well…
(more…)

Charles Barkley throws out turrible first pitch

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I noted the other day that there have been a ton of NBA-related first pitches thrown at Major League Baseball games this summer and fall. And while I’m still planning on a massive post rounding up all these pitches, I wanted to wait as late as I could so I wouldn’t miss any of these first pitches.

And then Sir Charles comes along and forces my hand. Last night in Chicago, Charles Barkley threw out the first pitch at a Cubs game. And, first of all, it was juuu-ust a bit outside. OK, I’m being generous: It was way wide right and it bounced all the way to the backstop. But, hey, it was better than his golf swing?


VIDEO: Barkley throws out the first pitch at Wrigley Field

Throwback Thursday: Offseason Blockbusters


VIDEO: Relive some of Charles Barkley’s best plays as a member of the Phoenix Suns

Welcome to Throwback Thursday here on the All Ball Blog. Each week, we’ll delve into the NBA’s photo archives and uncover a topic and some great images from way back when. Hit us up here if you have suggestions for a future TBT on All Ball.

Today’s Topic: Offseason Blockbusters

Just this week, the Cleveland Cavaliers officially introduced All-Star Kevin Love and with that move in mind, we take a look back at some of the biggest offseason trades to go down in recent history.

(NOTE: Click the “caption” icon below the photo for details about each moment.)


Gallery: TBT: Offseason Blockbusters

Which of these trades do you remember most? Leave your comments below!

Charles Barkley takes ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Yet another Dream Team member has followed the lead of Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing: Charles Barkley. Watch out for the marshmallows…


VIDEO: Barkley Challenge

Pippen, Barkley teach Harden to have a short memory

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Foot Locker keeps rolling out the NBA-related commercials. In this latest spot, Houston’s James Harden gets advice from Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen on how to keep his mind right while playing in the NBA. I didn’t say it was necessarily good advice…

VIDEO: Short Memory

Throwback Thursday: The Dream Team


VIDEO: Relive some great All-Access moments with the Dream Team

Welcome to Throwback Thursday here on the All Ball Blog. Each week, we’ll delve into the NBA’s photo archives and uncover a topic and some great images from way back when. Hit us up here if you have suggestions for a future TBT on All Ball.

Today’s Topic: The 1992 Dream Team

Back in 1992, the U.S. Men’s Olympic National Team was no longer comprised of the best college players around. In that year, the best NBA players were allowed to represent the U.S. and America changed the way basketball was perceived worldwide with a squad led by Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and others.

On July 5, 1992, The Dream Team won the final game of the Basketball Tournament of the Americas against Venezuela 127-80. Team USA won all six games by an average of 51.5 points en route to a performance in the ’92 Olympics that wowed crowds and led to a gold medal.

To celebrate, this Throwback Thursday we look back at the players who made up the 1992 Dream Team.

(NOTE: Click the “caption” icon below the photo for details about each moment.)


Gallery: TBT: The 1992 Dream Team

Who do you remember most about The Dream Team? Leave your comments below!

Throwback Thursday: 1984 NBA Draft


VIDEO: The84Draft: Jordan vs. Bowie

Welcome to Throwback Thursday here on the All Ball Blog. Each week, we’ll delve into the NBA’s photo archives and uncover a topic and some great images from way back when. Hit us up here if you have suggestions for a future TBT on All Ball.

Today’s Topic: 1984 NBA Draft

The much talked about 1984 NBA Draft occurred on June 19, 1984. Five players from this Draft were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and countless other players were key contributors in the NBA. This is, without a doubt, the best Draft class in the history of the league and deserves to be celebrated.

This Throwback Thursday we look back at the best players selected 30 years ago today.

(NOTE: Click the “caption” icon below the photo for details about each moment.)


Gallery: TBT: 1984 NBA Draft

Who’s your favorite player from this draft class? Leave your comments below!

No. 5 – A Hall Of Fame group

The countdown is on! We’re offering 84 facts on the ’84 Draft – one every hour — in advance of the June 9 premiere of “The84Draft” on NBA TV.

Michael Jordan

In college and in the NBA, Michael Jordan performed like a Hall of Famer.

Names: Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, John Stockton and Oscar Schmidt

Colleges/Countries: Houston (Olajuwon), North Carolina (Jordan), Auburn (Barkley), Gonzaga (Stockton) and Brazil (Schmidt)

Drafted in 1984: 1st overall by Houston Rockets (Olajuwon), 3rd overall by Chicago Bulls (Jordan), 5th overall by Philadelphia 76ers (Barkley), 16th overall by Utah Jazz (Stockton), 131st overall by New Jersey Nets (Schmidt)

Draft fact: Five future members of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame had their names called at the 1984 NBA Draft.


VIDEO: Michael Jordan talks after being taken No. 3 overall in the 1984 Draft

We’re just five hours away from “The84Draft” on NBA TV! Tune in for the captivating story on one of the NBA’s most talent-filled and unique classes ever.