An Inside the NBA screenshot. An Inside the NBA screenshot.

Are we overvaluing the importance of Charles Barkley, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal to the NBA?

With news that the NBA on TNT may be ending as the league reportedly finalizes media deals with Disney, NBA, and Amazon, the future of Inside the NBA has been met with trepidation. Barkley has been on a radio tour ripping his bosses for screwing up negotiations with Adam Silver, fans have pleaded for Inside the NBA to continue, and even Stephen A. Smith is urging the show to go on.

Friday morning, on his WFAN morning radio show with co-host Boomer Esiason, Gregg Giannotti tempered the panic over Inside the NBA, noting everyone will be able to move on without the Barkley, Ernie, Kenny and Shaq quartet.

“They have a great show, it’s entertaining, they do a good job with the studio show,” Giannotti said in a sort of ‘You’re a great guy, but…’ tone. “The Beatles aren’t breaking up. I mean, this has been going on for two weeks now as if Yoko went in there and blew up the greatest combo of all time.”

“I feel like in every media article I’m looking at, everybody’s talking about this TNT thing,” Giannotti continued. “It’s like, ‘Alright, enough already.’ It’s over. So what? Everything in media ends. We’re all walking around with a guillotine over our head every single day, so tough. These guys made hundreds of millions of dollars throughout their careers, got paid handsomely and now they’re not going to do a show today. Oh, okay. Great. They’re living, they’re healthy and they’re rich. Big deal. We’ll be able to move on without the TNT Inside the NBA show.”

Part of the reason this story is getting so much attention is because Barkley has been so candid about the realistic chance that Inside the NBA is coming to an end, despite it being the best studio show in sports. Every time we think we can sit back and wait for the NBA to make a formal announcement or for David Zaslav to wave the white flag, Barkley adds a new layer to the story by torching bosses or expressing his own concerns.

Most of the outrage is less about Inside the NBA ending and more about the fact that it might be forced to end before it’s ready to. Fans would be upset if Barkley announced his retirement, but they would accept it. They’re struggling with the fact that Inside the NBA wants to continue and unfortunately, Warner Bros. Discovery executives appear to have botched that for TNT.

But it does seem like we’re valuing Inside the NBA more than the NBA does. We can lean on the fact that NBC, Amazon, or ESPN should want to create a new iteration of Inside the NBA if and when TNT does exit the picture, but there’s no guarantee that a network will be able to reach an agreement with the full cast. Yet much to every basketball fan’s dismay, Adam Silver still appears comfortable in moving on from TNT and Inside the NBA. Why is that?

It’s because basketball fans don’t only watch the NBA Thursday night. Hopefully, Inside the NBA continues for another 10 years. But whether it ends in one year, five years, or a decade, the NBA will survive. It survived the retirement of Michael Jordan, and it will survive the end of Inside the NBA on TNT, whenever that occurs.


About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to