TNT’s Inside the NBA crew of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal are essentially the sports TV version of the Superfriends. So it seems appropriate for those guys to team up with DC Comics’ Justice League in a promotional comic book for NBA All-Star weekend.

The Justice League Goes Inside the NBA All Star 2015 is available for free in comic book stores throughout New York City. But fans can also read the comic in a digital format at Bleacher Report and NBA.com. The Hollywood Reporter also had an early look at the entire 16-page story.

Also featured in the comic book are TNT personalities Marv Albert, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller and Kristen Ledlow.

In the story written by Brian Buccellato and illustrated by Beni Lobel, each member of the Inside the NBA teams up with one of the DC superheroes. O’Neal chooses Superman as his partner, Barkley picks The Flash, Johnson selects Wonder Woman, leaving Smith with Batman. The pairs then compete in a race from Barclays Center to Madison Square Garden.

NBA_comic

Of course, things don’t go quite that smoothly. Superheroes have a way of finding trouble or people who need help. So along the way, Barkley and Flash rescue construction workers from a falling crane. Shaq and Superman save endangered commuters after an accident occurs on the Brooklyn Bridge. Johnson and Wonder Woman evacuate two Staten Island ferries that collided. And Smith and Batman stop a subway train with faulty brakes.

Personally, I have trouble accepting a world in which Batman regularly refers to Smith as “Jet.” I mean, he’s Batman and would know Smith’s nickname because he’s the Darknight Detective and knows everything. Maybe all this time, Batman has been a huge NBA fan (and Inside the NBA¬†viewer) and I just didn’t realize it. Or the Caped Crusader could be using the nickname ironically, since he’s driving the Batmobile and Smith is in the passenger seat. Irony and dry wit would be more Batman’s style, don’t you think?

Actually, this is the second consecutive year that Turner Sports and DC Entertainment have partnered up on an NBA All-Star weekend promotional comic book. Last year, the Inside the NBA gang played the Justice League in a charity basketball game. And in that story, the League’s lineup included Steel which means Shaq faced off against the superhero he played in a 1997 movie. Somehow, this didn’t cause a rip or warp in the fabric of our reality.

The 2015 team-up looks far more realistic. Not to mention it has better superheroes with Batman and Wonder Woman. (No offense, Green Lantern.) One of these years, maybe Aquaman will get some love.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.

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