Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley talk OnlyFans on TNT. Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley talk OnlyFans on TNT. (Awful Announcing on Twitter.)

One of the defining features of TNT’s Inside The NBA over the years has been the back-and-forths between its cast, especially when that comes to ribbing Charles Barkley. And Shaquille O’Neal has been at the center of much of that. And this came up in two recent discussions of Barkley and social media. On Feb. 29, around Barkley launching an Instagram account, O’Neal said “And every time you send out a picture, you’ve got to hashtag #OnlyFans,” to laughter from the rest of the panel and a perplexed look from Barkley, who asked “Only fans of mine?”

That first exchange came with regular NBA on TNT Tuesday Adam Lefkoe filling in for regular Inside The NBA host Ernie Johnson last week. This week, on the pre-game show ahead of the first game between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks, Johnson was back. And he wanted to discuss Barkley’s venture into social media. And that saw him provide an update on Barkley’s Instagram followers (which grew from 9,000 to 30,000 that night, and are now at 212,000). But, even before that (around 0:15), Barkley had a remarkable comment about how panelist Kenny Smith saved him from O’Neal’s OnlyFans recommendation (the platform is used for multiple things, but even Wikipedia says it is “used primarily by sex workers who produce pornography”):

Barkley says “I gotta say thanks to Kenny, because I was going to do a FansOnly, an OnlyFans. And Shaq’s like ‘Chuck, you’ve got to do that.’ Cause I thought it was only for fans of mine. And Kenny’s like ‘Never listen to Shaq.'” And Johnson responds “Yeah, that’s a little different.” Smith adds “It’s different. You will have fans! But they will be different types of fans, with different expectations of your posts.”

Barkley discovering social media is pretty funny in its own right. But this is also a great example of the dynamics that have made Inside The NBA such a success for more than three decades. The show has always gotten great mileage of Barkley sometimes being clueless, of O’Neal trolling him, of Smith intervening with some common sense, and of Johnson inquiring about all this in a perplexed-but-amused manner. (This also works for things starting with O’Neal being clueless.) And this illustrates the entertainment all these figures continue to bring, even when it has nothing to do with the NBA games they’re theoretically covering.

[Awful Announcing on Twitter]

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.