Posts Tagged ‘Shaquille O’Neal’

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?”

Throwback Thursday: All-time points leaders


VIDEO: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sets the NBA’s all-time scoring mark

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: All-Time Points Leaders

We continue our Throwback Thursday All-Time Statistical Leaders series today by looking at the Top 10 all-time scoring leaders.

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


Gallery: TBT: All-time scoring leaders

Make sure to check out our previous All-Time Statistical Leaders galleries if you missed them!
All-time rebounds leaders
All-time steals leaders
All-time assists leaders
All-time blocks leaders

Which of these players would you most want to clean up your misses? Leave your comments below!

Throwback Thursday: All-time blocks leaders


VIDEO: Best centers: Hakeem Olajuwon

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: All-Time Blocks Leaders

We continue our Throwback Thursday All-Time Statistical Leaders series today by looking at the Top 10 all-time blocks leaders.

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


Gallery: TBT: All-time blocks leaders

Make sure to check out our previous All-Time Statistical Leaders galleries if you missed them!
All-time steals leaders
All-time assists leaders

Which of these players would you most want to make a win-saving block for your squad? Leave your comments below!

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!

The NBA takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

By Jeff Case


VIDEO: GameTime: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has taken social media by storm the last few weeks and according to alsa.org, the campaign has raised immense awareness for ALS (which stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but is better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Here’s more from the ALSA:

In the last two weeks, the Ice Bucket Challenge has quite literally “soaked” the nation. Everyone from Ethel Kennedy to Justin Timberlake has poured a bucket of ice water over his or her head and challenged others do the same or make a donation to fight ALS within twenty-four hours.

Between July 29 and today, August 12, The ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received an astonishing $4 million in donations compared to $1.12 million during the same time period last year. The ALS Association is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support from those people who have been doused, made a donation, or both. Contributions further The Association’s mission to find a cure for ALS while funding the highest quality of care for people living with the disease.

“We have never seen anything like this in the history of the disease,” said Barbara Newhouse, President and CEO of The ALS Association. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the level of compassion, generosity and sense of humor that people are exhibiting as they take part in this impactful viral initiative.”

With only about half of the general public knowledgeable about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the Ice Bucket Challenge is making a profound difference. Since July 29, The Association has welcomed more than 70,000 new donors to the cause.

Everyone from celebrities to, perhaps, some of your friends on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are challenging each other to dump a bucket of ice-cold water on themselves to further awareness of ALS. That list of participants includes NBA players, who have taken on (or doled out) the Ice Bucket Challenge, too. Here’s Michael Jordan, Team USA, Kevin DurantBradley Beal, John Wall, Damian Lillard, J.R. Smith and more taking the plunge:


VIDEO: MJ Ice Bucket

(more…)

Shaq auditions for Pharrell

ALL BALL NERVE CENTERShaquille O’Neal is not only a Hall of Fame basketball player, he also has historically had a variety of interests off the court, from acting to investing to rapping. As a rapper, he’s released six albums, and his first record, Shaq Diesel, actually went platinum. (He once told me, with a laugh, “Two went platinum, two went gold, two went wood.”)

And now that Shaq’s a member of the “Inside the NBA” crew, he’s apparently not quite ready to leave to leave rapping behind. In the video below, Shaq asks Pharrell to consider him for inclusion on the soundtrack of NBA2K15. I’m not sure this is the strongest audition, but it’s a start…


VIDEO: Shaq rap

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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NBA Lip Sync Battle

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — On his new version of “The Tonight Show,” Jimmy Fallon has introduced lip sync battles, where Fallon and different celebrities try to do the most accurate job of lip syncing and dancing along to various songs.

Thanks to the magic of Instagram, we can now have an NBA version of a lip sync battle, between TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal and Toronto Raptors big man Patrick Patterson.

Let’s start with Shaq Diesel, who posted this last night from San Antonio, where he was in attendance at the Spurs/Thunder Game 1, and he filmed himself giving an impromptu lip sync rendition of the National Anthem…

And then in this corner we have Patterson, who wrote in the caption, “Never Michael Jackson and drive…This is what happens when I drive for a long time…#dontjudgeme #actinafool #areuok #whyimsingle”

You’ve seen the video, now give us your vote. Who wins round one of the NBA Lip Sync Battle?

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

The Knicks were Shaqtin’ A Fool

By Lang Whitaker, NBA.com

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Shaqtin’ A Fool, the weekly compilation of lowlights on “Inside the NBA,” has become one of the most popular segments on the show. (And if you frequent the All Ball blog, you know we post Shaqtin’ each week right here on this blog.) And while we all know Shaq has his favorite players to regularly appear — JaVale McGee, Kendrick Perkins, etc. — in retrospect, for this season at least, it seems like Shaq also may have had a favorite team.

In this Youtube compilation video, someone cut together all the different Knicks appearances on Shaqtin’ A Fool from this season. Warning: It is over 5 minutes long.


VIDEO: Shaqtin’ A Knicks

(via TNLP)