Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith sign new multi-year deals to stay with TNT inside the NBA
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Big news in sports news: On the eve of the debut of the 2022-23 NBA regular season, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports (formerly Turner Sports) have announced that they have re-signed Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith to new multi-year extensions as co-hosts of TNT’s long-running basketball studio show, Inside The NBA.
New York Post reported Monday that each deal is for 10 years, a number that WBD has not (and likely will not) confirm.
The company’s decision to resign from the popular on-air team comes ahead of upcoming NBA media rights negotiations. The league’s deals with WBD and ESPN/ABC are set to expire after the 2024-25 season.
“Our partnership with the NBA is very important to us and this long-term agreement with the Inside the NBA team is a recognition of their importance to this relationship,” said the chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports. Luis Silberwasser said in a statement. “Inside the NBA embodies the creativity and spirit of innovation we have established throughout our long and successful partnership with the league.”
In addition to continuing his sporting work, this new deal will no doubt allow Barkley to explore other opportunities within the Warner Bros. portfolio. Discovery. The company has a slew of cable entertainment networks offering scripted and unscripted rates alike.
“We’re all one big family — Ernie, Kenny and Shaquille are brothers to me — and I wouldn’t be here yet if it wasn’t for them and all of the amazing people who work on our show,” Barkley said in a statement. “I’m not going to lie, though, it’s a life-changing business…and I’m lucky to be able to do live TV for a living.”
Johnson has long been the face of Turner’s on-air sports division, and this new deal also keeps him going for another decade. Not only does Johnson remain the host of Inside the NBA, which he helped launch 33 years ago, but he will also remain a key part of the company’s coverage of Major League Baseball and March Madness.
“I always say there’s ‘Got to, jobs’ and Get to, jobs, and the four of us clearly ‘Got to, jobs,'” Johnson said. working on this show, with Charles, Kenny and Shaquille in the office and alongside such an incredibly talented team behind the scenes. I am very blessed.
Smith is a former NBA champion and is now entering his 24th year as an analyst for Inside the NBA when he returns Tuesday night for the start of the 2022-23 season.
“I’ve been on a few championship teams in my day, but there’s nothing quite like this,” Smith added. “I wanted to continue doing the show because of the basketball and cultural impact that our show has become. I’m excited for the season and many more to come.
One of basketball’s greatest players and most dominant centers of all time, O’Neal joined the Inside the NBA team as a permanent analyst prior to the 2011–12 regular season.
“I’m happy for ‘The Godfather’ and Kenneth…is there anyone else I’m forgetting?” O’Neal said in a statement. “Just kidding…I love you, Charles.” As long as I say, “Aren’t you having fun?” and the answer is ‘Yes’, so we’ll continue.
THE FELLAS ARE BACK!
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 17, 2022