The Future of TNT's Iconic 'Inside the NBA' Is in Major Jeopardy

New report says NBC/Peacock is making an aggressive bid to steal the NBA from Turner Sports
February 24, 2012; Orlando FL, USA; TNT anchor Kenny Smith introduces Team Shaq general manager
February 24, 2012; Orlando FL, USA; TNT anchor Kenny Smith introduces Team Shaq general manager / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

1. The NBA’s current television deals expire after next season and it appears that there will be major changes beginning with the 2025-26 season.

One thing that won't change is that ESPN/ABC will still be the main player. Puck’s John Ourand has reported that ESPN and the NBA have agreed on the parameters of a deal that will see the Finals remain on ABC.

However, the “B” package could be on the move.

The Wall Street Journa's Joe Flint reported on Monday that NBC/Peacock is making a MAJOR push to steal the TNT package. MAJOR = $2.5 BILLION per year.

While that stinks if you’re like me and hate watching games on streaming services, the other ramification is way worse.

Chances are, if NBC gets the package from TNT, that would be the end of the greatest sports studio show of all time: Inside the NBA with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal.

Maybe NBC would make a play for all four hosts, but normally, when a network acquires a package, it wants to put its own imprint on it. Plus, just snatching up the foursome won’t be that easy. Ernie Johnson does other work for Turner and has worked for them for basically his whole professional life. ESPN would do anything and everything it could to hire Barkley.

In addition, The Athletic’s Andrew Marchand has reported that Amazon will also get a third NBA package in 2025-26. (YAY! More streaming!). It would be more likely that Amazon can make the push to hire the the Inside the NBA crew than NBC because (1) Amazon doesn’t have in-house NBA people; (2) Amazon has more money than anyone; and (3) Amazon still needs credibility as a sports outlet, NBC does not.

But putting Ernie, Kenny, Charles and Shaq on a streaming service for regular season games that hardly anyone is going to watch will, quite frankly, suck. And suck a lot.

And it’s not just about the four personalities. The reason Inside the NBA has become a legendary show has just as much to do with producers, directors and all the behind-the-scenes people as the on-air talent.

If Amazon or NBC brought over all four guys, the show might be similar, but it won’t be the same. And anytime perfection gets messed with, it’s a huge bummer. And Inside the NBA is perfection.

The WSJ pointed out that Turner has the right to match any NBC offer. So there is a glimmer of hope that maybe Inside the NBA remains as is, but the Debbie Downer in me just doesn’t see how Turner drops $2.5 billion per year for NBA games that get marginal ratings. NBC will drop that ridiculous amount of money because they are desperate to add content to Peacock. Turner programming streams on Max, a service on much firmer ground than Peacock.

So while I don’t think Turner will match NBC's offer, I can assure you, I’ve never wanted to be more wrong about a prediction.

2. More potential fallout if Turner loses the NBA: What happens to the man with the best pipes in sports broadcasting, Kevin Harlan?

Obviously, Harlan would get hired by another network in about five seconds. And rightfully so. Just listen to these clips from his call of Monday night’s Lakers-Nuggets game. Nothing but pure electricity.

3. Monday Night Raw was in Kansas City last night and Patrick Mahomes was in attendance. He even mixed it up during a match a little bit, by giving Logan Paul his Super Bowl rings so Paul could use them to punch Jey Uso.

Mahomes was also "confronted” by Braun Strowman before getting some backup from Chiefs offensive linemen, Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith

Making Mahomes a heel in Kansas City was bizarre, but he played it well.

4. Chris “Mad Dog” Russo gave us one of his vintage moments Monday when a caller who proclaimed to be a big Knicks fan revealed that he was playing golf while New York was playing Philly in Game 4 of the playoffs Sunday afternoon.

The caller actually hit me up on Twitter and doubled down on his actions.

5. Info about The Greatest Roast of All Time: Tom Brady that will air this Sunday live on Netflix at 8 p.m. ET has started to trickle in. If you don’t think Bill Belichick roasting Brady will be must-see TV, I don’t know what to tell you.

6. The latest SI Media With Jimmy Traina features a conversation with newly retired New York Yankees radio legend, John Sterling.

Sterling, who was the radio voice of the Yankees for 36 seasons before stepping away from the job in mid-April, talks about his decision to retire now and clarifies reports on his health. He also addresses the social media backlash the Yankees faced after giving him an 83-inch television as a retirement gift.

Sterling also shares the advice he’d give the person who succeeds him as the Yankees radio play-by-play person, shares his thoughts on his “streak” of calling 5,060 straight games and remembers his time as a sports talk radio host. Sterling also reveals the one Yankees player who asked him to change his famous home run call and talks about the role Mike and the Mad Dog played in helping the home run calls become a thing.

Following Sterling, Sal Licata from WFAN and SNY joins me for our weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment. This week’s topics include the NFL draft, Aaron Boone’s ridiculous ejection, the upcoming unedited The Greatest Roast of All Time: Tom Brady on Netflix, Taylor Swift’s new album and more.

You can listen to each podcast by clicking into the tweet below. You can also listen on Apple and Spotify.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Lists are usually terrible pieces of content, but we fully endorse this one from the Dan LeBatard Show‘’ Taylor Vippolis.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok


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Jimmy Traina

JIMMY TRAINA

Jimmy Traina is a media writer and podcast host for Sports Illustrated. A 20-year veteran, he’s been covering the media industry for seven years and writes a weekly column at SI, Traina Thoughts. Jimmy has hosted the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast since 2018, a show known for interviews with some of the most important and powerful people in sports media. He also was the creator and writer for SI’s Hot Clicks feature from 2007 to 2013.