Posts Tagged ‘Ernie Johnson’

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?”

Play Inside the NBA Bingo

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Last night in the run-up to Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, The Powers That Be at Turner Sports released a bingo card based around some of the common words and phrases we see and hear on “Inside the NBA.” As soon as I looked at this I searched for Charles Barkley saying, “First of all…,” and sure enough, there it was. As well as a ton of other stuff…

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Charles Barkley caught a cramp

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — What’s worse, getting a painful cramp in your leg, or working with people who try to convince you to do crazy stuff while you’re suffering from that cramp? Charles Barkley had to opportunity to find out last night on “Inside the NBA.”


VIDEO: Charles Barkley gets a cramp

Charles Barkley’s TNT Debut

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

This video has been around for a few years, but has only recently started drawing attention. During the 1992 Playoffs, Charles Barkley, who was still an active player, came to Atlanta and sat in the Turner Studio for the night alongside Ernie Johnson. Charles making a career out of this would come later, but for a first time the Chuckster was pretty good. A few things to note:

1. Chuck’s voice sounded a bit higher back then. Yelling Chuck apparently came later.
2. Ernie Johnson seems to have a Trapper Keeper full of information on the desk.
3. That set! That music!


VIDEO: Charles Barkley TNT Debut

(via SI)

Inside The NBA Meets The Justice League

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ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Moviegoers have seen Shaquille O’Neal in costume as Steel, the super-sized member of the Justice League. Now, in a special All-Star weekend collaboration, the entire crew from TNT’s “Inside the NBA” is teaming up with the rest of D.C. Comic’s Justice League to … play basketball? That’s right, they all link up in this special issue to fight dastardly enemies and get buckets. Will they be faster than Kenny “The Jet” Smith? More powerful than Charles Barkley playing “Who He Play For?” Able to leap Ernie Johnson‘s bow tie in a single bound?

To see all the “Inside” crew with some of the NBA’s biggest stars, check out TNT’s All-Star coverage this weekend, all weekend long. To see them with D.C.’s biggest stars, including Superman, Flash and Green Lantern, it’s all in the free comic book. How can you get one? If you’re in New Orleans for All-Star weekend, you can pick up a free copy of the comic at Jam Session.

And if you can’t make it to New Orleans? We’ve got you covered: You can download the entire comic here.

Inside The NBA Takes Manhattan

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Before I moved into the All Ball Nerve Center earlier this year, I spent just over a decade working for SLAM magazine. This meant that every morning I woke up and took the subway down to Manhattan’s Flatiron District, then walked over to what we called the SLAM Dome — the SLAM offices, located in an office building just across the street from Madison Square Park.

When I started my daily journeys to and from the work space back in 2000, it wasn’t much of a neighborhood — there were a couple of fast food restaurants and some delis around, but it was mostly office space and empty storefronts waiting to be developed. Since then, things have come a long way. Now there are hotels, and fancy restaurants and stores. The city invested in the parks and roads, and you can now find actual crosswalks and sitting areas all over the place.

Last night I made my first return trip in a while, in order to see the fellas from TNT’s “Inside the NBA” do their season-opening show live, basically sitting in the middle of traffic. Here’s how it looked to me …

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Things actually began on Monday afternoon, as Turner Sports hosted a luncheon for the assembled New York media. Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal entered the conference room and sat down exactly in the order in which they usually sit on TNT’s Atlanta set. (Ernie later said they had no idea they did that — they just grabbed seats and it happened naturally.) They guys picked right up where they left off last season, cracking jokes and making fun of each other. At one point when Shaq began a story by saying, “You know, when I retired…,” and Charles quickly interjected, “Two years too late!” (more…)

Live From New York, It’s A New NBA Season

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — You may not have been aware of this, but the NBA season begins one week from tomorrow! And to tip off a long season of coverage, it was announced today that TNT will begin the season with a special show live from New York City.

From the press release…

Turner Sports will officially launch Kia NBA Tip-Off ’13, the opening week of the 2013-14 NBA regular season, with three consecutive nights of doubleheader coverage across TNT and NBA TV. Entering its 30th consecutive year of NBA coverage, TNT will open the season with a doubleheader Tuesday, Oct. 29, beginning at 7 p.m. ET when the Sports Emmy Award-winning studio team of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal televise a live pregame show from Flatiron Plaza in New York City. The special NBA on TNT Opening Night 2013 Presented by AutoTrader.com telecast is part of a New York City attraction sponsored by 2K celebrating the start of the NBA season.

Following TNT’s special one-hour pre-game show, which also includes live coverage of the championship ring ceremony for the Miami Heat, TNT’s opening night doubleheader will feature the defending champion Miami Heat and LeBron James hosting the Chicago Bulls and the highly anticipated return of Derrick Rose at 8 p.m. After the Bulls/Heat matchup, TNT will feature a battle of Los Angeles with the Clippers and Chris Paul meeting the L.A. Lakers and two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash at 10:30 p.m. Marv Albert will call the Bulls/Heat telecast with analysts Steve Kerr and reporter David Aldridge, with Kevin Harlan providing play-by-play for Clippers/Lakers with analyst Reggie Miller and reporter Craig Sager.

As part of TNT and NBA TV’s comprehensive Opening Night coverage, NBA TV will televise a special edition of NBA GameTime at 6 p.m. Hosted by Matt Winer with analysts Grant Hill, Steve Smith and Chris Webber, the show will preview the upcoming season while also providing live look-ins to the event taking place in New York City.

For NBA fans in New York City, TNT’s critically-acclaimed studio show will be part of an on-site attraction open to the public and sponsored by 2K. The event will take place Tuesday, Oct. 29, at Flatiron Plaza, and will feature a basketball court, NBA 2K14 video game kiosks, and a massive video board perched 30 feet above Broadway and Fifth Avenue serving as a viewing area for fans to watch the live TNT pre-game show and game coverage. Turner will team up with NBA Cares, the league’s social responsibility program, during the day’s activities to promote physical fitness and healthy living for kids and families.

Turner Sports will also set up an NBA on TNT social media vending machine at various locations throughout New York City, giving fans a chance to collect free prizes ranging from copies of the NBA2K14 game, golden tickets for meet and greets with the Inside the NBA studio team and more. Additionally, an NBA 2K14 video game scavenger hunt will take place around Manhattan with clues being distributed via the @NBAonTNT and @2K Twitter handles throughout the day.

In addition to the New York-based events, host Winer and analysts Hill, Webber and Smith will provide the Sprint Halftime Report for the Lakers/Clippers game, along with full post-game coverage during the Inside the NBA presented by Kia broadcast from Turner Studios in Atlanta.

Turner Sports’ opening week coverage will also include doubleheader action on Wednesday, Oct. 30, and Thursday, Oct. 31. NBA TV will feature the Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving hosting the Brooklyn Nets with newcomers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce at 7 p.m., followed by the Lakers visiting the Golden State Warriors and sharpshooter Stephen Curry at 10:30 p.m.

TNT will round out three consecutive nights of NBA opening week doubleheaders with the Bulls hosting the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony at 8 p.m., and the Warriors visiting the Clippers at 10:30 p.m. Albert will provide the call for the Knicks/Bulls game with analyst Kerr and reporter Aldridge, with Harlan describing the Warriors/Clippers game with analyst Miller and reporter Sager.

NBA TV, jointly managed by Turner Sports and the NBA, will also televise the Bulls visiting the Philadelphia 76ers and rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 7:30 p.m. and the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant hosting the Phoenix Suns and Eric Bledsoe on Sunday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m.

Brent Barry Has A Basketball Jones

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Basketball fans around the world know about The Basketball Jones, the pioneering NBA-related podcast and blog coming straight outta Toronto. And if you don’t know, you should. Tas Melas, JE Skeets, Trey Kerby and a collection of supporting characters pump out quality NBA content on the daily, and through the years they’ve done more than their fair share to popularize podcasting not just within basketball but sports as a whole.

Today we will see their 1,000th episode drop, a mind-boggling number (especially considering I’ve been podcasting with Sekou Smith for years and we’re only up to episode 119). To celebrate the 1000th episode of The Basketball Jones, Turner Sports colleagues Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Brent Barry put together a fantastic video tribute.

Congrats, fellas!
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NBA Style: Wooden Bow Ties

NBA Style

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — A couple of weeks ago while watching Inside the NBA, I sat up straight when I heard something about Mike Conley wearing a wooden bow tie…
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The reason this segment riveted me was because a few weeks earlier, I’d been in Oklahoma City and met a guy named Tim Paslay, who co-owns a company called Two Guys Bow Ties. He and his partner have been hand-making wooden bow ties since the fall, and Tim showed me a sample of their product. I told him at the time that it seemed natural they should get a few ties to Ernie Johnson, who wears a bow tie on TV every night. So when Ernie mentioned hoping they would get in touch, I connected Tim and Ernie.

A few nights later, well, you can watch what happened…
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I emailed Tim over the weekend and asked where he got the inspiration for the custom ties for the Inside guys.

“As soon as I heard Chuck say it looked like a dog bone I knew I had to incorporate Mango and Yoohoo into his ties,” Tim said. “It took some time, but I was able to track down a clip where they showed their faces and capture those to adorn the tie. The funny thing about Shaq‘s tie is that I wanted it to be hilariously over sized so I made it is AT LEAST twice the size of our normal ties. I was shocked that when he held it up in front of his neck tie that it looked just about right for him. His hand dwarfed it when he grabbed it from Ernie. I know he is big, but that blew me away.”

NBA Style: Dwyane Wade’s Game 4 Suit

NBA Style
By the NBA.com Style Crew

After breaking out a colorful printed jacket following Game 2, Miami’s Dwyane Wade showed up for last night’s Game 4 in his home town of Chicago with his most fashion-forward outfit yet: A double-breasted suit with a polka dot pattern, with pants cut at an aggressive, Thom Browne-inspired length. (Or rather, lack of length).

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It was enough to draw a response from Chuck, Shaq and Kenny
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Now it’s your turn. Would you choose D-Wade’s suit? Or would you lose the suit? Vote below, and don’t forget to continue the conversation on Twitter using #NBAStyle
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