Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Inside the NBA" AKA The Greatest Show on Earth Returns

Tonight is the start of the NBA season, which means TNT's award-winning and finger-licking "Inside the NBA" returns to the airwaves. Familiar faces will be back in Atlanta's Studio J to break down the games and each other:

Ernie Johnson: the straight man that holds the show together. Ernie does all the heavy-lifting: dishing out stats, recapping news from around the league and, most importantly, mediating (intervening may be a better word) between the folks in the studio. EJ, however, has a sly sense of humor and will administer a well-timed jab at either Kenny or Chuck every once in a while. EJ underwent chemotherapy this summer to treat Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. As a result he'll have a different look this season, as the cancer treatment made him bald. Far better to lose Ernie's hair than to lose him.

Kenny Smith: the punching bag for the studio and crew. The Chuckster loves to criticize Kenny, whether it's for talking about his brother Vince or for pitching one of his youth basketball camps on national TV. Smith is a regular victim of faked photos and videos (see above). Kenny is a great analyst and provides insight on how a team develops into a championship contender (and he would know, having played for UNC and Houston). Smith is very involved in the NBA (when not working for TNT Smith analyzes Knicks games) and has many amusing anecdotes about the league.

Charles Barkley: the jester of "Inside the NBA." The Round Mound isn't afraid to laugh or be laughed at. Topics that poke fun include his waistline, his golf swing and his gambling problem. What makes Barkley so lovable is that most of the time he brings the jokes onto himself, such as the time he referred to the Titantic as a "ball smoating accident." He has a tendency to ramble and is somewhat ignorant of what's going on in the league; Chuck always does miserably playing "Who He Play For?" Barkley, in many ways, is larger than life. His endearing personality and brutal honesty make him the stand-out star on the show.

And Charles is the jester of "Inside the NBA" only because TNT already hired The Joker:

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