Last month we told you about the decision facing the biggest free agent in the NBA this offseason, Shaquille O’Neal. Of course, Shaq wasn’t fielding calls from NBA teams what with his retirement and that whole lockout thing being so en vogue in sports these days. No, instead Shaq had the NBA’s two TV partners, ESPN and Turner, beating down his door to sign The Big Shamrock as their newest on-air personality. Well, it seems Shaq has indeed made his decision to spurn the leader and join TNT’s happy NBA family.
With the news being broken by our friend Darren Rovell on Twitter (hear his podcast with us here), details are sparse at the moment. One would have to assume Shaq would slide right in to the award-winning Inside the NBA along with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley, perhaps replacing the air time left behind by the departure of Kevin McHale to coach in Houston. Almost universally, the move is being lauded as a surefire success. Who wouldn’t find the combination of The Big Aristotle and Sir Charles entertaining and enlightening.
But, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not so easily convinced. Is there enough room for both Shaq and Charles Barkley on one studio set? It’s almost like having both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the basketball court. Will one be willing to set up the other? Is there enough air time to go around for the both of them? Will Shaq’s involvement disrupt the famed chemistry between Ernie, Kenny, and Charles? What about Chris Webber, entertaining in his own right, will he be squeezed out of regular Inside the NBA appearances to NBATV purgatory?
As an NBA fan, I would have preferred to see Shaq go to ESPN where he could have spread his wings across multiple platforms while immediately becoming the network’s best and brightest NBA personality. Shaq could have taken ESPN’s NBA coverage from mediocre to something actually worth watching. How much can Shaq honestly improve Turner’s already fantastic NBA coverage? Time will tell. While the odds are that Shaq will eventually be a success with Sir Charles and the TNT gang, I’m not willing to pass out any Emmys to Shaqtus just yet. That is, until Shaq’s inevitable reality show on Tru TV as a part-time Sheriff comes to fruition. I suppose that’s one additional Turner platform for Shaq to conquer.