For a while now, Inside the NBA colleagues Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley have been bickering on air in a way that seems to be part schtick and part actual acrimony.

After a few incidents over the course of the season, the apparent feud really blew up Tuesday night, when Shaq jabbed at Barkley for never having won a ring, Barkley said Shaq road his teammates coattails, Shaq called Barkley a “bum,” and Barkley alluded to Shaq’s “fat ass.”

On Thursday, Shaq ratcheted up the beef by posting on Facebook a photo of him seemingly out-muscling Barkley, with the caption, “Back when I used to DOMINATE on bum ass Chuck #throwbackthursdays.”

If Shaq and Barkley are just messing around, they sure are selling it well.

The thing is, whether or not these two are actually mad at each other, their fighting has made for really fun TV. Some people resent Inside the NBA for choosing personality over analysis, especially when the show features reality-show drama like this. But those kinds of antics are exactly what differentiates the TNT show from every other sports studio show on TV.

If you’re tuning into Inside the NBA looking for thoughtful basketball analysis, you’re in the wrong place. Inside the NBA is where people who happened to once play basketball banter and bicker about whatever comes to mind, sometimes interjecting basketball commentary that is as likely to be absurd as insightful.

The show works because it’s unabashedly silly and because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Does this Barkley-Shaq discord distract them from talking about basketball? Sure. But Inside the NBA isn’t really about basketball anyway. And hearing two Hall of Famers dis each other on live TV (while Ernie Johnson ignores them and picks at a food spread) is awfully entertaining.

Now hopefully they don’t kill each other.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • crs44

    I never got the impression that they were truly angry at one another. It sounded like old-school, good-natured trash talk from when the NBA was actually good. These days, with everybody so hypersensitive, everybody wants to make a story out of it.

  • Roger in Orlando

    “Rode,” not “Shaq Road,” which might be a highway in Louisiana. By the way, this is the glitchiest, clunkiest website I have commented on in ages. Balky, bandwidth eating ad packaging makes it almost unusable.

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