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Arguably the best studio show in all of sports is the NBA on TNT. The cast of Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith is sports entertainment at its finest. ESPN would kill to have just one studio show like that.
Instead, they trot Jalen Rose and Stephen A. Smith out for every big event.
The NBA Finals are on ESPN, which means the NBA on TNT is done for the season. Charles Barkley and Shaq didn’t hold back during their last show, either. They let everyone know how much better it is to not work than it is to work.
“It’s out last show of the year,” Ernie Johnson said to open the broadcast prior to the Heat/Celtics Eastern Conference final Game 7.
“Thank goodness,” Barkley immediately responded. “I love basketball. But I love summer vacation more. I’m not going to get up here and lie.”
“What are two better words: Game 7 or summer vacation?” Johnson asks.
“Summer vacation,” Barkley and Shaq respond in unison.
Shaq and Charles Barkley delay their summer vacations for NBA TV
That leads one to believe that Shaq and Charles Barkley are done for the year, ready to soak in the sun on summer vacation. Catch the NBA Finals poolside with a drink in hand.
Instead, they agreed to appear on NBA TV’s pregame and postgame coverage for the NBA Finals.
And, to open the broadcast, NBA TV fronted both Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley as “not on vacation.”
Barkley, clearly ornery about having to work instead of being on vacation, quips at Shaq, “You’re the Hall of Fame? How’d you get in the Hall of Fame?”
“Because I got four of them thangs,” Shaq shoots back, referring to his four NBA Championships.
“Chuck, no vacation yet … [we’ve] got two games here in Denver,” host Matt Winer says.
“I’m excited to be here,” Barkley replies. It’s a pretty unconvincing “excited” but there you go.
Kudos to NBA TV for pouncing on ESPN’s terrible NBA coverage by bringing on the two biggest stars in sports television for a competitive show.
Perhaps an even bigger victory is convincing them to delay their summer vacations.
Shaq and Charles Barkley: confirmed workaholics.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak