Tuesday, May 15, 2007

EJ, The Jet, and Chuck

Last night was a tremendous night to be watching the NBA Playoffs. For one, you had a doubleheader of Cavs/Nets and then the Spurs/Suns. Then there was the fact that the games were being televised by TNT, which meant my favorite pregame/halftime/postgame combination would be alive and kicking. And for icing on the cake, the one and only Shaq was a guest analyst alongside Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley. Personally, I hate it when games are on ESPN because it means we get a boatload of bullshit from their bushleaguers like Jamal Mashburn, Kiki Vandeweghe, and Dee Brown. I really don't understand why ESPN doesn't just go with Tim Legler and Greg Anthony all the time because they are definitely solid. But they certainly aren't at the level of the TNT guys.

What makes TNT's studio guys the best is that you can tell NBA players actually watch them. You hear it in their interviews when they call out Chuck or make fun of Kenny. And there's some real genuine comraderie within the show. They've all been doing it together for so long now that even Ernie Johnson can crack on Sir Charles. But if none of the guys knew anything about basketball the shenanigans would be meaningless. That is not the case though. Barkley consistently has reasoned responses to the game's action and definitely gives actual insight. Kenny's got his pictures where he details a key aspect of the ongoing game. And last night was even better because Shaq was in studio just ragging on Chuck and Kenny. He was dissing Kenny for being nothing but a three point shooter and Chuck for not having any titles. But Kenny and Chuck shot right back with The Jet showing off some video of Hakeem The Dream annihilating Shaq in the Finals when he was with the Magic. And Chuck had video of a near-brawl started by Chuck in which Barkley definitely got the upper hand.

They stuck together when Shaq tried to get cute and make fun of them on their own show.

But after all of the joking around (It was hilarious when they showed a montage of Shaq's funniest quotes) there was actual talk of the games like how the Nets need to turn up the tempo if they want any shot at getting past the Cavs. And Chuck was able to draw on personal experiences when it came to Boris Diaw and Amare Stoudamire leaving the bench after Big Shot Rob hipchecked Steve Nash into the boards. Chuck concluded that he wouldn't be surprised if both were suspended one game because the NBA is very strict in sticking with its "don't leave the bench during a fight" rule. And Kenny pulled no punches when he called out the Suns' coaches for their bullshit about how Amare was leaving to go check in. From my vantage point, I agreed. Amare was looking to knock some heads not wipe his feet on the little rubber mat to check in. A few weeks ago everyone on the TNT set was talking about the Emmy they won for best pregame and having watched over these playoffs, I'd have to agree. Those three are consistently entertaining, and actually say something meaningful when they talk.

To sum up the show you had to watch the end of Inside the NBA (the postgame show which is officially my favorite show on television). Kenny bet Shaq that if he made 2 of 3 free throws, two guys would pour a bucket of water on both Kenny and Charles. What made the situation more hilarious was seeing Charles stand instead of his normal sit behind the desk. The man has literally put on 100 pounds since retiring and he was wearing beige khakis and white shirt, a blazer, sparkling white sneakers, and his gut hanging over his belt. He really looks like that disgruntled 70-year-old who seems to live in every neighborhood around America and is always yelling at the kids to get off his fucking lawn before he sicks his dog/shotgun on them. SO of course, Shaq takes the bet saying if he doesn't make it he'll donate a 1000 bucks to Kenny and Charles' chrarities. And of course he misses his first two. Being a betting man, Shaq wants double or nothing. But this time it's only Kenny who gets the water on him. And again Shaq misses both. Which prompted this from Sir Charles to end Inside the NBA, "No wonder ya'll are the worst defending champs of all time".


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