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Would I Miss the NBA on TNT?

It was reported recently that NBC had offered the National Basketball Association $2.5 billion to steal the rights from TNT. For the last 35 years, TNT has had the rights to broadcast NBA games. Time will tell if this will materialize. 

If you're a student of the NBA, both ESPN and TNT share the NBA broadcasting this season. The focus of this article is on TNT. I don't have any issues with the TNT broadcast announcers, but the halftime show is something I want to elaborate on. 

I've watched their pre-game and halftime show for over a few years and, in my estimation, it can be described in one word: overrated. Even though it's hyped quite a bit, it receives an undue amount of credit for quality. Ernie Johnson hosts the show, and he's normally joined by Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, and Kenny "The Jet" Smith. One could complain about its length because it's usually around four minutes long – if you consider the banter that takes place, subtract at least one minute. Before I continue, all analysts are properly coiffed in designer suits.

As the host, Ernie tries to steer the ship as it often goes off course. He does a fine job of ensuring all three analysts have a chance to provide input. Shaq's input is typically about the center, which is the position that Shaq is most familiar with. He'll generally make general comments about a player dominating another player or a big man needing to protect the rim better. Rarely do you hear something original emanating from his mouth? He's a friendly fellow, but style over substance applies here. Mr. Smith sometimes provides some insight, but his main shtick is running to the giant video screen to diagram certain plays. Sometimes, there's a race between Kenny and Shaq, and they may argue about who was first on the screen. It's way too old and useless but has continued for several years. As certain plays are shone, Kenny sometimes will provide insight if he's on cue. He genuinely knows the game but often has an off night -- like when he played for the Rockets. Not someone I gravitate towards. 

I left Charles to the last critique; he's the most outspoken and accurate analyst. His predictions are often incorrect, but you usually learn something from him when he speaks. He's the only one I carefully pay attention to. For example, in last night's game seven between the Nuggets and Timberwolves, he accurately noted that Rudy Gobert of the Timberwolves was treated like a ragdoll and should be substituted for someone more physical. I'd recommend that he is the only analyst that deserves to remain. Three minutes of analysis from Charles would teach me much more than we see today.

nba on tnt

Last week, TNT made a surprising addition to their team, bringing on Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors as an analyst. This move raises questions, as Draymond's on-court behavior often contradicts the values the NBA upholds. For those unfamiliar with Draymond, a brief overview of his suspensions and past technical fouls will illuminate why his inclusion is a topic of discussion. 

In 2016, Draymond was suspended for an altercation with LeBron James. In that same season, Green was assessed a Flagrant one-foul for kicking Steven Adams in the groin. After an additional review, he was fined $25,000. During the 2018-19 season, he had an altercation with his teammate Kevin Durant and was suspended. During last season, he was fined for punching teammate Jordan Poole, and Jordan was traded after the season. (You get punched in practice, and is the reward being traded?)  During that same season, he was suspended for committing his 16th technical, a rule violation. During this past season, he was suspended five games for putting Rudy Gobert in a headlock. Draymond has a long-going confrontation with Rudy. On December 12th of this season, Mr. Green was suspended for hitting Jusuf Nurkic in the head. He voluntarily committed to mental health therapy to try and get his anger issues under control. From what I've seen about him on the court, it's not just the language that produces technical fouls; it's also the excessive physicality and other antics he engages in. 

Over the last ten years, Golden State has won four titles, and during that run, I understand why they kept him on the team. However, they didn't make the playoffs this year and weren't too successful last year, so why keep him on the team? So, if the Warriors are past their prime, why would they sign Draymond to a four-year $100,000,000 contract in 2023, where all of the money is guaranteed? 

nba on tnt

He appears on the TNT set with his shiny white teeth and contributes to the analysis. His appearance made me angry; why should he deserve this platform for how he comports himself on the court? He often acts like a clown and has admitted he's usually challenged to control his anger. His current team, the Warriors, who play in San Francisco, have enabled this behavior. They have suggested that he needs to control his emotions better, but if these antics continue, what else have they done behind the scenes? If they've done much work with him, why has this continued for so many years? Indeed, I hope he gets the necessary help to better assist his behavior on the court. In the meantime, I don't think he deserves to be an infrequent guest on TNT.

Another thing about TNT and its sports coverage is that their hockey halftime show is much more informative. Liam McHugh currently serves as the host of NHL on TNT. He's joined by analysts Wayne Gretzky, Anson Carter, Paul Bissonnette, & Henrik Lundqvist. All analysts are former players who regularly provide insight about the game. It's night and day compared with the basketball broadcast. None of the analysts appear to hog air time, although they often yield to Wayne Gretzky when he's working. During the commentary, each analyst will usually try to complement each other when making an observation. They provide excellent insight into the period that had just been completed or the overall game. They have fun, and a sense of humor is evident, but their focus is foremost on educating the viewer. Perhaps basketball fans merely want entertainment instead of some helpful education.

Would I miss the "NBA on TNT"? If the NBA accepts NBC's latest offer, I'd not miss the program too much. I'd miss Charles Barkley, although, with his insight, wisdom, and personality, NBC may want him to switch networks. That would be an interesting dilemma for Charles, as he's been very loyal to TNT, having served as an analyst for this network since 2000.

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