Kenny Smith Rumors
“I remember Shaq saying once he liked the theme just in passing, but no one’s ever acknowledged me. Charles Barkley needs to acknowledge it and give a shout out. Otherwise I’m never going to support him again,” Rabin joked during a recent interview, referring to Shaquille O’Neal and Barkley, who host “Inside the N.B.A.” with Johnson and Kenny Smith.
O’Neal, the longtime “Inside the NBA” analyst, was missing from his seat when Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley kicked off their coverage ahead of the Charlotte Hornets-Indiana Pacers matchup. The crew, obviously, had to crack plenty of jokes. “What kind of a dummy misses the first night of the playoffs?” Barkley asked before Smith called O’Neal via FaceTime on the broadcast.
The underlying if unspoken truth there is that TNT doesn’t have any real rivals. NBA studio shows are almost entirely extinct—ESPN notably has The Jump, but the network’s pre- and postgame shows are largely toothless—which leaves the network in a unique position to plan the future of the genre by experimenting with its present product. Turner Sports essentially gets to control the conversation and set the standard in that space. To that end, TNT executives said the Tuesday group was brought in to supplement the Thursday show rather than compete with or eventually replace it. Which might even be true. But it’s also true that comparisons were inevitable, as is speculation about the future of the network’s NBA talent. (Kenny, Charles, and Ernie are reportedly locked into long-term deals and are unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon.)
Basketball Hall of Famers Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal joined former president Barack Obama on an NBC special Sunday night to encourage Americans to get COVID-19 vaccines. The former NBA players — who have remained highly visible through their roles as analysts for “Inside the NBA” on TNT — exchanged humorous barbs and briefly spoke with O’Neal’s mother before Obama joined them. “So I’m playing Kenny the Jet,” Obama joked when he joined the duo, in reference to Kenny Smith, who is an analyst alongside Barkley and O’Neal on “Inside the NBA.”
“Now, as the vaccine becomes more available, I want to make sure that our communities, particularly ones — African American, Latino — as well as young people understand that this will save lives and allow people to get their lives back to normal,” Obama added. “The sooner we get more people vaccinated the better off we’re going to be.” Barkley said he’s on the verge of getting his second vaccine shot, and O’Neal said he’s been vaccinated, along with family members with underlying conditions. “But I’m not worried about me or my family. I’m worried about the average mom and dad,” O’Neal said.
Kenny “The Jet” Smith, two-time NBA Champion and analyst for TNT’s Sports Emmy Award-winning show Inside the NBA, is joining the FanDuel Group team as part of an exclusive content deal with the sportsbook operator. This new partnership designates the firm as the exclusive sports betting and daily fantasy provider for Smith who will appear in FanDuel advertising and TNT promotions featuring free to play contests. Smith will also provide unique content for FanDuel Group’s social media channels.