May 26, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Shaquille O'Neal talks with Dallas Mavericks center Dereck Lively II (2) before the game between the Mavericks and the Minnesota Timberwolves in game three of the western conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

If you need proof of just how much pull Inside the NBA has within the NBA – look no further than Dereck Lively II.

In a New York Times piece written by Tania Ganguli, which focuses on Charles Barkley’s willingness to speak on the challenges of the NBA rights being in flux despite direct opposition from Kenny Smith and PR staffers, Lively is quoted a few times.

The 20-year-old Lively saw himself become an instant meme after a clip of him being chased around the court by Oklahoma City Thunder’s Chet Holmgren went viral. His friends couldn’t wait to show him the video, and according to the Times, he acknowledged the rare experience of landing on the “Shaqtin A Fool” segment.

“There’s not a lot of people who get to be in those moments,” he said.

If the show goes way — which it very well could — despite Barkley throwing out the idea of placing it under his own production company (Fine Line Productions), the league would lose a part of its fabric. Don’t just take our word for, take a young, impressionable 20-year-old, as the 2023 first-round pick out of Duke said that the league will lose “one of the lighthearted but also one of the places where people aren’t afraid to say what they want to say,” if the show were to go away altogether.

“All those four guys, everybody has a lot of respect for those four guys,” Lively continued. “Whenever they talk, people listen.”

That they do.

That’s the uniqueness of Inside the NBA. This generation of athletes has learned to tune out some of the talking heads, though they’ll engage from time to time. But if any of Barkley, Smith, Shaquille O’Neal or Ernie Johnson say something or want to speak to a player postgame — there’s always a tendency to listen or be engaged.

And to possibly lose that connection, Lively said, “It’s going to hurt the league.”

[NY Times]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.