WBD Sports’ Inside The NBA is known for many things, including its cast having fun with weird NBA moments and the played-up rivalry between panelists Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal. Those two elements combined in a notable way Tuesday on the show after TNT’s coverage of the Minnesota Timberwolves-Golden State Warriors game.
That game started with a brawl that saw Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Jaden McDaniels all ejected, with Green’s chokehold of Rudy Gobert particularly drawing attention. And on the postgame show, O’Neal recreated that. He started by going for fellow panelist Kenny Smith and saying “I want to give you a hug,” but after Smith figured a chokehold was coming and opted out, Barkley opted in:
Shaq really put Chuck in a chokehold ? pic.twitter.com/swyvgEeiun
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) November 15, 2023
Fortunately, that was a pretty mild chokehold (unlike some we’ve seen in sports media), and Barkley seemed to be having fun with it. So this wasn’t a real escalation of the Shaq–Sir Charles feud (which host Ernie Johnson has noted is “never out of control.”) It also wasn’t even one of the most physical things on the show in recent memory, or even the most physical thing on set between those two (see their 2019 wrestling match). But it was definitely entertaining.
And the show then added to this by showing a bunch of memes tweeted about the chokehold, from kittens to professional wrestlers. So this was excellent TV, and part of the chemistry and willingness to have fun with what they cover that makes Inside The NBA stand out. Any show could have a serious debate about Green and Gobert, but this was probably the only one to feature a chokehold recreation.
(It will be interesting to see how sometimes-Inside The NBA guest panelist/WBD Sports figure and constant media critic Green reacts to this. But it’s not like this is the first time O’Neal and/or (especially) Barkley have mocked him either. And he’s taken plenty of criticism for physical altercations over the years, so that’s not new either. But it will be worth keeping an eye on if and how Green responds.)
[NBA on TNT on Twitter]