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Inside The NBA
Inside the NBA logo
Format Sports
Starring Ernie Johnson Jr.
Charles Barkley
Kenny Smith
Chris Webber
Reggie Miller
David Aldridge
Country of origin  United States
Running time 30-60 minutes
Original channel TNT (1988-)
Original airing November 13, 2001

Inside the NBA is the five-time Emmy Award-winning postgame show for NBA on TNT broadcasts. The program features host Ernie Johnson with analysts Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. Occasionally, Johnson, Smith, and Barkley are joined by one of two guest analysts; Chris Webber or Kevin McHale.



Inside the NBA has gained popularity in recent years for the chemistry and banter of Johnson, Smith and Barkley.

Barkley has been known for his controversial comments and outrageous bets. During the 2006 NBA Playoffs, in response to performer David Blaine's attempt to stay under water for nine minutes, Barkley duplicated the stunt with a small tub of water but only managed to stay under water for 24 seconds. In late 2002, Barkley told Kenny Smith that he would "kiss [his] ass" if Houston Rockets then-rookie Yao Ming scored nineteen points in a game,[1] which was followed by Yao doing exactly that later that week. As a result, on Listen Up! With Charles Barkley and Ernie Johnson that Thursday, Barkley kissed the rear end of a donkey that Smith brought into the studio. Barkley has also been weighed on air several times, and once said "bullshit" live on air. In 2002, a controversial Sports Illustrated cover, in which Barkley was portrayed in chains (like a slave),[2] led to a sometimes heated debate on the TNT studio show. Smith has also been the brunt of jokes before, an example being the "retirement" of his jersey on air. In reality, it was a Tracy McGrady jersey with Smith's name put on a clothesline and "raised" to the TNT studio roof on a clothsline with various undergarments. Most of the jokes were featured as Ernie Johnson's EJ's Neat-o Stat of the Night.

The chemistry of Johnson, Smith and Barkley has led some to believe that Inside the NBA is the best studio program on television [3] [4]. The program has won several Emmys, including one by host Ernie Johnson Jr. for "Best Studio Host/Personality"[5]. Some criticize the show, mainly due to Barkley's brashness[6]; in turn, that same brashness is also cause for some to praise the show [7].

The popularity of the program has led the NBA to air reruns of the show (as well as reruns other TNT NBA studio programs, NBA Tipoff, the T-Mobile Halftime Report and the Southwest Airlines Game Break) on the TNT OverTime on

Catchphrases and quotes

  • "Win or go home" - The main tagline TNT uses for its playoff coverage. While the phrase may not resonate in the early games of a playoff series, it becomes especially useful towards the end of series. For all of TNT's Game 7s (Dallas-Sacramento in 2003, Miami-New Orleans and Sacramento-Minnesota in 2004, Indiana-Boston, Dallas-Houston and Detroit-Miami in 2005 and Lakers-Phoenix Suns, San Antonio-Dallas and Clippers-Phoenix in 2006), the phrase has been used in the pregame montage and in the graphics during the game.
  • "Gone fishin'" - The most notable of TNT's catchphrases. It is used whenever a team is knocked out of the playoffs, and is usually accompianied by doctored photos of players on the team on fishing boats with analyst Kenny Smith. Occasionally, Barkley or Smith will wear fishing hats when they anticipate a team's elimination from the playoffs. In addition to players, notable figures from the city of the eliminated team often show up (i.e., Condoleezza Rice, who was doctored into a Gone Fishin' photo after the Washington Wizards were eliminated from the 2005 playoffs). The catchphrase has gotten popular enough to warrant its own page on[8] and has also become a metaphor for being eliminated from the playoffs.
  • "My big fat obnoxious boss" - Barkley's nickname for Inside the NBA producer Tim Kiely; the term is a takeoff on the short-lived FOX television show with the same name.

Charles Barkley

Barkley and Kobe Bryant

Barkley came under fire by some in 2006, due to his criticism of Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant. After Game 6 of the Lakers' first round series against the Phoenix Suns (when Bryant scored 50 points and the Lakers lost in overtime), Barkley criticized him for scoring too much and not getting his teammates involved. After Game 7 of the same series (when Bryant did not score and hardly attempted any shots in the second half), Barkley ripped him for being unselfish. Some columnists thought that Barkley was being hypocritical.[9][10] Bryant and Barkley exchanged several text messages about the issue,[11] and during the second round of the playoffs, Bryant appeared on TNT's studio show. Bryant and Barkley had a mild debate about the issue, and some observers found that Barkley was too easy on Bryant, considering his previous comments about him.[12]

Race with Dick Bavetta

While filling in for an injured Steve Kerr on a Los Angeles Lakers-Sacramento Kings broadcast,[13] Charles Barkley made disparaging comments about the age of referee Dick Bavetta.[14] The conversation between Barkley and play-by-play man Marv Albert eventually led him to comment that he could outrun Bavetta, and any other man of his age (Bavetta was 67 at the time).

This led Johnson and Smith to note that Bavetta, a physically fit referee whose job required him to run up and down the court on a nightly basis, would likely beat Barkley in a race. Bavetta challenged Barkley to a footrace, which was then scheduled for the upcoming All-Star Weekend.

The race was heavily hyped on the Internet, receiving some mainstream attention as well. Several NBA players weighed in with predictions, and the overwhelming majority picked Bavetta to win the race.[15][16]

Despite being the underdog, Barkley won the race by a comfortable margin. Both men ended up falling after the race; Bavetta dove for the finish line, and Barkley stumbled backwards and fell upon victory. With the race decided, the two then kissed on the mouth and exchanged a friendly hug. The race raised $50,000 for charity, and All-Star Saturday Night on TNT drew its highest number of television households in its twenty-two-year history.[17]

Oakland "controversy"

During the 2007 NBA Playoffs, following the Golden State Warriors' upset of the Dallas Mavericks, Barkley made some degrading comments about Oakland, California, saying things such as "it makes me mad, mad that they're in Golden State and not LA" and "it's not a city". In response, the scoreboard at the Oracle Arena began showing a graphic of the Warriors' mascot throwing a pie at Barkley.

Oakland native and NBA legend Gary Payton, in his trademark competitive, trash-talking style, went around Oakland with a video camera to rebuke some of Barkley's comments and get some of the locals' opinions on Barkley and his comments, with Payton providing some of his own comments about "Sir Charles" and providing quips such as "It ain't no thrift store, it's Oakland". The humorous segment, which also included embarrassing vintage coverage of Barkley being dunked on in a game against Golden State, aired during Inside the NBA's playoff coverage of the series between the Warriors and the Utah Jazz. The clip culminated with a shot of Payton standing in front of the San Francisco Bay saying "How do you feel about my city now, Chuck? ... Now, come see me, in person, here. I've got a surprise for you, too, a lot of Krispy Kreme donuts."[18] The humorous controversy was subsequently put to rest.





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