Matt’s Musings: Celebrating 30 years of ‘Inside the NBA’

Matt Singer | Contributing Writer

The National Basketball Association returned earlier this week, and there is a whole lot to be excited about and intrigued by. For example, will the Houston Rockets have to split the basketball in two in order for Russell Westbrook and James Harden to play effectively together? Has Ben Simmons finally overcome his fear of jumping while shooting? Will the New York Knicks just always be funny? Will Anthony Davis’ unibrow overshadow LeBron’s hairline as the number one hair-related story on the Lakers? And is Nikola Jokic just the greatest human being on the planet?

The NBA has a surplus of storylines this season and should be interesting to follow all year long, as the league looks more unpredictable than it has for a long while. But nothing is more exciting for me, personally, than the return and 30th anniversary of the best sports television show on the air: “Inside the NBA.”

Technically, “Inside the NBA” is TNT’s post-game NBA show, but people use Inside to describe anything involving the main guys who do studio coverage at TNT.

Host Ernie Johnson and analysts Kenny Smith, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley form the NBA’s dysfunctional family, and just like other shows about families who don’t always get along but ultimately love each other, this one is full of laughs as well as heart.

Look, the NBA season is really long. There are about six months between now and the start of the playoffs, and eight months from now until the end of the NBA Finals. Even just as a fan, it is grueling. And often the games on national TV are of little to no interest to me. But I always try to catch at least part of TNT’s Thursday night lineup because I know I’ll never be let down by the Inside guys.

In the leadup to this season’s tip-off, Inside’s social media team posted daily videos featuring the best moments in show history. So, this week, instead of giving my season predictions, I’m going to give you, my loyal readers (my fanbase is now my mom and my dad), the ultimate must-watch list of “Inside the NBA” moments.

Gas mathematics

Kenny expresses his dilemma in buying a new car. He wants a specific car but is concerned about the gas mileage. Shaq tries to ease his concerns with math. Hilarity ensues.

Rockets-Clippers locker room drama

In January 2018, a few Rockets, namely Chris Paul, Gerald Green and James Harden, apparently tried to break into the Clippers’ locker room following an 11-point Clippers win over the Rockets in LA. The reasons as to why they were trying to do this are still somewhat unclear, but the absurdity of the situation made for some great conversation on TNT directly following the incident.

Kenny tries to jump over a car

During an interview with Kobe Bryant, EJ brings up Kobe’s recent shoe commercial where he jumps over an Aston Martin. Not to be outdone, Kenny shows a clip of him doing the same thing in his new kicks. Let’s just say it’ll knock your socks off.

Black Masters

It has been said that EJ, against all odds, is actually the “blackest” person on “Inside the NBA”. In the First Annual Black Masters, he gets a chance to prove it. Complete with a soft-spoken commentator, an unforgettable green and yellow logo, and the black Jim Nantz, the Black Masters doesn’t disappoint. Bonus: watching Chuck’s golf swing always makes for a good time.

TNT’s Ultimate All-Star Fantasy Draft

This is a long one, but believe me, it’s worth watching the whole way through. From 2011, it is a little bit on the older side, but the comedy is as good as ever. Chuck and Kenny plus Kevin McHale, Reggie Miller, Chris Webber and Steve Kerr pick their all time NBA teams. Highly recommend this one.

Chuck learns Spanish

Apparently, Charles made it a goal of his to learn Spanish. In this Cinco de Mayo edition of “EJ’s Neat-O Stat of the Night,” Ernie puts Chuck’s knowledge to the test, and, to no one’s surprise, Chuck hasn’t actually learned a damn thing.

Flex Seal

In this one, meme icon Phil Swift and basketball icon Charles Barkley collide to amusing effect when Chuck’s love for infomercials and Flex Seal in particular is put under duress. How this hasn’t been used more in the Phil Swift memes is beyond me, but this segment is great nonetheless.

Inside crew visits Ernie’s old neighborhood in Milwaukee

This is the only non-comedic piece on the list. During last season’s Eastern Conference Finals, while in Milwaukee, the Inside guys visit Ernie’s old neighborhood, as he is a Milwaukee native himself. Ernie gets a few really nice moments reuniting with old neighbors and friends. Being Inside, of course, it’s not all mushy, but seeing EJ react so emotionally makes for an awesome piece.

Every ‘Audio Toon’

A couple of years ago, Inside put corporate synergy to work by having animators from Cartoon Network animate short clips of some of the best ever Inside conversations. They never disappoint. Watch ALL of them, and then watch the conversations the “Audio Toons” are based on.

There are way too many legendary moments in this show’s history to list here, but these are just some of my favorites. So, grab a Krispy Kreme donut, sit back and enjoy. Here’s to you, Inside.

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