Saturday Night Live brought back their somewhat-recurring NBA on TNT sketch last night.
Featuring Kenan Thompson as Charles Barkley, Alex Moffat as Ernie Johnson, and Chris Redd as Kenny Smith, the studio parody also found room (albeit barely, given the size jokes at play) for Bowen Yang as Yao Ming, filling in for Shaq.
The premise focused on the recent rash of disruptions to the NBA, which has forced what are essentially replacement players into action around the league. It was a fairly funny sketch (confession: I’m personally not the world’s biggest SNL fan, but this particular bit is as close to my wheelhouse as it gets, and Thompson and Redd are especially fun in their roles and Moffat got EJ’s cadence right, at least), recapping an imagined Nets-Kings first half that saw the Nets beating up on a roster filled with “fans and arena support staff.”
Mikey Day’s line reading of “I realize that basketball is an impossible sport, played by giants and gods” was also a choice moment. (I’ve sat in the second row for one NBA game. It wasn’t a good one, either, featuring the post-Malice Pacers and the pre-Lob City Clippers. Even so, I could see enough to know Day’s character is very obviously correct.)
Kenan’s Chuck being constantly amused by Yao’s enormous size was the least topical humor of the sketch, but seeing a giant hand coming in from off-screen to pet Chuck’s head still worked for me. The reveal at the end that Barkley had actually bet on the undermanned Kings was also excellent.