Big news about sports news: On the eve of the 2022-’23 NBA regular season debut, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports (formerly Turner Sports) announced it has 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 each deal is for 10 years, a number WBD has not (and likely will not) confirm.
The company’s decision to resign the popular on-air team takes place in advance of the NBA’s next media rights negotiations. The league’s deals with WBD and ESPN/ABC are set to expire after the 2024-2025 season.
“Our partnership with the NBA is very important to us and this long-term agreement with the Inside the NBA team is recognition of their significance to that relationship,” Warner Bros. Discovery Sports chairman and CEO Luis Silberwasser said in a statement. “Inside the NBA epitomizes the creativity and innovative spirit we’ve established throughout our successful, long-standing partnership with the league.”
In addition to continuing his work on the sports side, this new deal will undoubtedly allow Barkley to explore other opportunities within the Warner Bros. Discovery portfolio. The company owns a bevy of cable entertainment networks featuring scripted and unscripted fare, alike.
“We’re all a big family — Ernie, Kenny and Shaquille are brothers to me — and I wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for them and all the amazing people who work on our show,” Barkley said in a statement. “I’m not gonna lie, though, this is a life-altering deal…and I’m blessed to be able to do live television for a living.”
Johnson has long been the face of Turner’s on-air sports division, and this new deal also keeps him around 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 Major League Baseball and March Madness coverage.
“I always say there are ‘Got to, jobs’ and Get to, jobs,’ and the four of us clearly have ‘Get to, jobs’,” said Johnson. “It’s been a journey of a lifetime to work on this show, with Charles, Kenny and Shaquille at the desk and alongside such an amazingly talented crew behind the scenes. I’m very blessed.”
Smith is a former NBA champion and now enters his 24th year as an analyst for Inside the NBA when it 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 one,” added Smith. “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 the greatest basketball players and most dominant centers of all time, O’Neal joined the Inside the NBA team as a permanent analyst before the 2011-’12 regular season.
“I’m happy for ‘The Godfather’ and Kenneth… is there someone else I’m forgetting?” O’Neal said in a statement. “I’m kidding…love you, Charles. As long as I say, “Are you not entertained?” and the answer is ‘Yes,’ then we’re going to keep this thing going.”
THE FELLAS ARE BACK!
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 17, 2022