Inside The NBA has been on the air for a remarkable 31 years. And unlike most things it hasn't gone stale yet. Remember when ESPN and SportsCenter used to be cool? The main reason Inside The NBA has been successful is because of the threesome of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. If you put Kenny on any other show he wouldn't be nearly as entertaining, but he has always worked great next to Chuck with their playful bantering and teasing. The show added Shaquille O'Neal after his retirement from the NBA and it obviously works with him still, but honestly they could do so much better.
Unlike Barkley who can take being roasted, Shaq is way more sensitive. He's an example of someone who can dish it, but can't take it. His jokes aren't funny and there are so many better options that would enhance the show. Watching the KG/Chuck video above, obviously Garnett could fill the role and give it a new fresher look. First thing's first, TNT is not replacing Shaq, so this is just a random offseason topic. Also there are likely dozens of better options than KG, though he would be an upgrade for sure, and I got a lot of laughs out of that above video.
You'd probably want another funny former player. He's a little dated now, but someone like John Salley who used to do TV work would undoubtedly make the show even more entertaining. Maybe Jalen Rose, but he's not all that funny. Definitely not Gary Payton. He's probably the only replacement that would make me long for the days of Shaq.
The reality is the show has been successful because it makes you laugh. Charles is the star and Ernie is the perfect host. Kenny gets credit for being the first to create the back and forth banter (or dozens) with Barkley. Kenny feels like family after all these years, so he stays. But that 4th seat is being wasted on Shaq. Like I mentioned, he's that guy we all know that thinks he's hilarious, tells everyone how funny he is, cracks lame jokes on others, and then gets salty when he's the butt of jokes in return. His latest shots at Dwight Howard are just another example of how Shaq is neither witty nor likable. Extremely physically, God gifted, dominant NBA force for a period of time in the NBA for sure.
Saw yesterday that he was trying to clap back at some fan on Instagram that dared criticize Shaq on how good he could have been if he kept himself in shape, and Shaq's retort was something like I was the most dominant ever and I won championships so shut up... which basically proved the fan's point. And my point is that kudos to Inside The NBA for the thirty-one year run so far. It's always important to keep striving to improve, so might be time to consider better option for that 4th seat. Ideally someone funnier and more likable. There are plenty of options out there. At worst you can find someone who checks at least one of those boxes. And if you want someone who has already shown he can work with crew then may I suggest Mr. Big Ticket himself Kevin Garnett.