TNT’s beloved Inside The NBA studio show has been running since 1989 in some form, adding current on-air figures Ernie Johnson (since 1990), Kenny Smith (1998). Charles Barkley (2000), and Shaquille O’Neal (2011) along the way. Those figures look to be with the show for some time to come, with TNT parent Warner Bros. Discovery signing them all to long-term extensions (running well past the end of their current NBA rights contract in 2025) last fall. But there is a notable behind-the-scenes change coming, with Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post reporting Tuesday that producer (and WBD Sports vice president, production) Tim Kiely (who had been producing the show since 1995) will be retiring after this season:
New story at NY Post: Tim Kiely, the longtime producer of Inside the NBA who made it what it is, is retiring https://t.co/diTlEYXyyq
— Ryan Glasspiegel (@sportsrapport) May 17, 2023
Glasspiegel’s piece has some notable quotes from WBD Sports chief content officer Craig Barry:
“Tim Kiely is a visionary who has reinvented studio shows for generations of sports fans,” said Craig Barry, Chief Content Officer, WBD Sports.
“As the architect of TNT’s ‘Inside the NBA’, his influence and impact on sports media has been profound, and it will live on through the countless producers he has mentored through the years. We wish ‘TK’ all the best in his retirement and thank him for all he’s done for our company and broader industry.”
Inside The NBA has had a remarkable run at TNT, winning 17 Emmy Awards. It’s also garnered wide popular praise and even a four-part docuseries, which aired in 2021. And Kiely played a large role in the show’s success, as shown in that documentary. Beyond that, in a 2021 interview with Ken Kerschbaumer of Sports Video Group, he had some interesting things to say about how their relationship with the NBA has gone, with Twitter being a particularly important part of that:
It was a hard sell at first because they had not seen anything like it before. When Charles first came on, we would go to halftime, and Ernie would say the score was 65-35, and then Chuck would say, “What a terrible game.” People went nuts and said, Don’t do that. But what saved us was Twitter. It became a new form of communication, and we needed to be on top of it and learn how to use it to our advantage.
People started tweeting that our guys were telling the truth, and everybody wanted to be part of Twitter and wanted the audience on Twitter because they were young. We had to accept the fact that, if we said it’s a great game, they would come back on Twitter and tell us we couldn’t be serious. That was the shift that allowed us to justify what we were doing.
In that piece, Kiely also talks about how their their current lineup came together and why it works:
When Kenny came on, he still wanted to play, and he thought this was a short-term thing. He didn’t pay any attention to the conventions of television, like looking at cameras. And he didn’t speak in soundbites: he talked and told stories.
…Charles famously said he was very close to signing with NBC, and then he watched [our coverage on] Turner and said, “They look like they’re having fun and, if this ain’t fun, I ain’t going to do it.” So he signed with us and then went nuclear on everything. It was so easy for him, and, on top of that, he was naturally funny and quick. Then Shaq just added the cherry on top: he comes in, and he’s just the biggest 11-year-old I’ve ever met in my life.
That group has certainly found great chemistry together, and Inside The NBA has been key to TNT’s NBA programming. And Kiely’s work on it has been a big part of its evolution and success.