In any conversation about ESPN’s NBA Countdown, someone invariably wonders why the show can’t be more like TNT’s Inside the NBA. While Inside the NBA is loose and fun and spontaneous, NBA Countdown can feel rigid and formulaic.
But Jalen Rose, who is in his fourth season on Countdown, says the comparison isn’t quite fair.
Asked by The Big Lead’s Ryan Glasspiegel about the success of his radio show with David Jacoby, which re-airs on ESPN2 late at night during the week, the former NBA star slipped in a defense of Countdown
As much as you want talent to be in a prime slot, we [Jalen & Jacoby] know that we’re unorthodox in a lot of different ways, so we always kind of joke that we’re glad we’re on when the suits are asleep. That’s our internal joke.
It’s almost like when people were comparing Countdown to Inside the NBA. Countdown, that’s a show that comes on Sunday afternoon, so you have an audience that might be infant to elderly, so there’s a different way you entertain that audience. Whereas Inside the NBA, that comes on at 12, 1 in the morning. You can have Area 21, that’s almost late-night TV.
Rose has a point, to a certain extent. While Countdown airs at 7 p.m. during the week and in the afternoon on Sunday, Inside the NBA comes on late at night on Thursdays, when the audience is NBA nerds and college kids. It makes sense that the shows would take on slightly different tones.
But that doesn’t totally excuse the fact that NBA Countdown doesn’t have Inside the NBA’s appeal. People like Inside the NBA not necessarily for the off-color humor and occasionally PG-13 teasing but for the chemistry between its analysts. Plenty of shows have achieved that camaraderie in the morning or evening, and somewhere out there exists a winning formula NBA Countdown.
Rose is right that Countdown can never be exactly the same as Inside the NBA, but there’s no reason it can’t be as good.