Kenny Smith May 20, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; TNT television personality Kenny Smith prior to game one of the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs between the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

TNT’s Inside the NBA show has solidified its place at the very top of the mountain when it comes to NBA coverage and entertainment value. While Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal often get the bulk of the praise in that department, Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Ernie Johnson are part of the glue that holds the entire operation together. They offer stability if you will.

At a time in which the industry has experienced layoffs, Inside the NBA has been able to keep humming along. While ESPN has done its best to try to compete with TNT in the world of NBA coverage, it’s hard for them to replicate what Barkley, O’Neal, Smith and Johnson have created. And because of that, among other issues, ESPN has shaken up its broadcast team for next season and has shuffled others in and out of NBA Countdown

As a part of ESPN’s revamped NBA coverage, the World Leader has surprisingly replaced Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson with Doc Rivers and Doris Burke as its lead game analysts, joining play-by-play voice Mike Breen on the call. ESPN has also moved on from Jalen Rose and reportedly won’t renew the contract of Vince Carter. They’re also nearing a deal to bring in former Golden State Warriors general manager, Bob Myers, to the set of NBA Countdown, in addition to replacing Mike Greenberg with Malika Andrews as host.

Smith recently caught up with Front Office Sports and was asked about the decision-making of TNT’s direct competitor.

“I’m not really sure how they’re [ESPN] doing it. I’m not really versed on why they’re doing all their cuts and how, is it budgetary? Because certain guys are getting let go, and then you hire someone else for more money. I have no idea why they’re doing it, but stability is what brings success,” Smith told Front Office Sports

There’s that word again. Smith used “stability” to describe why Inside the NBA has been able to be so successful in this marketplace.

“That’s family, we’re not even a show anymore,” Smith said. “It is what Monday Night Football was when I was growing up with Howard Cosell and those guys—we’ve become that for basketball. “It’s just an unbelievable accomplishment and a great energy that every time you walk into the studio, you’re happy to be there.”

“People can count on certain things, I think that’s what makes us the best show on television. We have stability, we’re entertaining,” Smith continued. “But more importantly, we have stability. We have guys that you really can count on that know the game.”

And for better or worse, stability has been the key to Inside the NBA’s success, while ESPN’s NBA coverage has been inconsistent due to frequent changes. We’ll have to see if that continues to be the case going forward.

[Front Office Sports]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.