Shaquille O'Neal, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley at the 2023 NBA All-Star Game.

There have been quite a few feuds between Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley on NBA on TNT broadcasts over the years, but what happened on the broadcast during Sunday night’s lead-up to the NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City was especially notable. During analysis of the pre-game draft of reserves for the teams, Barkley’s comments came out slowly, and O’Neal asked if he was drunk:

“Man, ain’t no bad picks today, all these guys are great,” Barkley said. “Why’s it sound like you’re drunk? You all right?” O’Neal asked, and Barkley responded “No, man, it’s the mic.” O’Neal said “It’s not the mic, it’s you,” then mocked Barkley’s attempt to pronounce Mark Cuban’s name and added “What the hell are you drinking?” Barkley replied “No, man, it’s the mic, I’ve got a delay,” Ernie Johnson chimed in with “Always blame it on the equipment,” and O’Neal said “I want to thank Patrón [tequila] for sponsoring Chuck.” Kenny Smith then added “This is a dry state, this is a dry state.”

On that dry state front, there was also a moment of Barkley roasting Utah and Salt Lake City (one of many notable things he said on the night):

“These people going to heaven. There ain’t nothing to do in this boring-ass city. It’s a great city, but ain’t nothing to do here. Can’t smoke. Can’t drink. These people going to heaven.”

Beyond any discussion of alcohol, TNT definitely did experience some audio issues. Also during that draft, Barkley and O’Neal were heard going back and forth in background audio picked up on the broadcast:

That clip has O’Neal saying (around 0:14) “Say something Chuck, I’ll smack you with this mic right now,” Barkley responding, “I’ll tell you what, there ain’t enough people to pull me off of your ass,” O’Neal saying “Don’t say another word,” and Barkley saying “Another word.”

These exchanges got a lot of reactions, partly thanks to the broadcast they took place on. But they’re not that different in tone from many of the Barkley-O’Neal back-and-forths over the years, and Johnson has said in the past that the two analysts “love each other” and that their exchanges are never out of control. So there isn’t necessarily a problem here. Which is good, considering that both of them (and also Johnson and Smith) just signed long-term contract extensions last fall.

[The New York Post;

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.