Ernie Johnson Rumors
The NBA made the first All-Star weekend since Craig Sager’s passing a memorable affair, expertly helmed as always by TNT’s Ernie Johnson. Sager, the longtime sideline reporter from Turner Sports who succumbed to cancer late in 2016, was the inspiration behind a slightly impromptu 3-point, half-court and eventual layup-shooting benefit at Saturday night’s All-Star festivities in New Orleans. A layup hit by Sager’s son Ryan marked a $500,000 donation made from the league and its sponsorship partners to the Sager Strong charity.
Through Sunday, according to Turner Sports PR, the clip, between the NBA on TNT’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, had 95 million social media impressions and 16 million video views. That’s the most social engagement any NBA on TNT segment has ever had. “I didn’t do this with the intention of getting response on social media,” Johnson said in an interview on Friday. “All we were doing was what everyone in this country was doing, processing this election. And the way I processed this election, because it is who I am, I had to include my spiritual take on this. That’s what’s given me perspective on this. I believe whoever is in the White House, God is in charge. That’s me. And I voiced that on TV.”
“I could have taken a safe way and said I did not like the choices and that maybe there will be a difference from Campaign Trump and the President Trump,” Johnson said. “But that’s not the only way I processed the election. I processed it by, no matter who is the President of the United States, I serve the God on the throne, and that’s me. If I am not bold enough at that point to say what I said, then I have failed. I realize we have a basketball show but in this case it was more than a basketball show. It was one of the biggest events we will ever see and this is how I processed it. Did I think if I went down this road, some people will be mad? Yes. That is the way it is. I was just being me.”
The network announced that its hit ‘Inside the NBA on TNT’ lineup of Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith will be on the air for a long time thanks to “multi-year” extensions for the group. “We truly believe Inside the NBA is among the best studio shows of all time and a large part of its success is due to the unrivaled chemistry between Ernie, Charles, Kenny and Shaquille,” said Lenny Daniels, president of Turner Sports in a statement. “We’re looking forward to continuing the creativity and pioneering spirit behind the show for a very long time.”
Charles Barkley won’t be gone fishin’ just yet. After previously suggesting he might leave TNT at the end of his current contract, the Hall of Famer has agreed to a multiyear extension to remain as a studio analyst for “Inside the NBA.” The network announced Wednesday that all of the show’s stars had received new deals, so Barkley will keep trading barbs with fellow commentators Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal and host Ernie Johnson.
Ernie Johnson sure is a class act. On Tuesday night at the Sports Emmys, the TNT host gave his award for ‘Best Studio Host’ to the daughters of late ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, who lost his battle with cancer in January. TNT’s Johnson knows a thing or two about fighting cancer. In 2006, he took a leave of absence during his battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He later returned as host of the Emmy-winning show “NBA on TNT” opposite Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith.