If you require another reason why the NBA must settle its labor issues before the lockout affects next season, here you go: Fans would miss out on the chance to discover whether Shaquille O'Neal's sharp sense of humor translates to television.
O'Neal, the 15-time All-Star center who spent the final season of his career with the Celtics, has joined Turner Sports to serve as an analyst across its various NBA platforms. Most notably, he will become a full-time analyst on TNT's popular studio show "Inside The NBA," joining host Ernie Johnson and analysts Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley.
“Shaq knows the game and, on and off the floor, he has always been entertaining; a guy who gets it," Johnson said in a press release. "Obviously, I know I’m going to have to eat before I get to the studio.”
Chris Webber and Kevin McHale appeared on the program as guest analysts last season. McHale has moved on to coach the Houston Rockets. Webber will continue as an analyst on NBA TV, also a Turner Sports property.
O'Neal's role on TNT extends beyond his studio duties -- and even the realm of sports. He will contribute to NBA TV and NBA.com, providing analysis and commentary throughout the regular season, postseason, All-Star festivities, and the draft. His deal also includes a development agreement with Turner's entertainment and animation networks.
But the coup for TNT is bringing him aboard "Inside The NBA." The chemistry on the program between Johnson, Smith, and Barkley has made the five-time Emmy-winning program arguably the best sports studio show on television. O'Neal outsized personality may change the dynamic somewhat, but the interaction between the charismatic O'Neal and the outrageous and hilarious Barkley should make for compelling television, presuming they get along better than they did here:
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.