When Shaquille O’Neal retired from basketball last month, he promised his fans he wouldn’t stop entertaining them. O’Neal kept his word, signing a multi-year deal with TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” an award-winning basketball analysis/commentary show.
Shaq will now join fan favorites Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson and Charles Barkley in perhaps the most popular post-game basketball show, which airs mostly late at night after West Coast basketball games are played.
The future Pro Basketball Hall of Fame center told reporters that he received an offer to join the ABC/ESPN networks as a pro basketball analyst, but said he had to choose TNT because “Inside the NBA” is his favorite show.
“It was very tempting ,’’ O’Neal told The Boston Globe. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for ABC and ESPN, but I felt that Turner Sports and TNT was the place for me. It’s always been my favorite show. I’d love to be up there hanging with Charles and Ernie and Kenny. I thought that was the best pick for me. It was a deal that I couldn’t resist.’’
“Inside the NBA” has become a favorite for most NBA followers because of how Barkley, Smith and Johnson offer blunt honesty mixed with fun and humor.
“They like to, as we say in the sports world, ‘Keep it real,’” O’Neal told the Globe. “And I thought it was the best fit for me. The good thing about this show is everybody has their own opinion.”
Shaq will go down in history as one of the greatest 7-footers to play basketball, scoring 28,596 points, while claiming four championships rings throughout his 19-year career. But he also showcased his fun and goofy side to fans throughout the last two decades. He said he can’t wait to team up with Barkley, perhaps the funniest of the show’s personalities.
“Charles is a funny guy, he’s a guy that says what’s on his mind,’’ O’Neal said. “We’re going to make it very fun. We’re going to make it very exciting for the fans to watch.’’