Fans Are Furious About Losing Inside The NBA, But Many Agree There’s An Obvious Silver Lining

Fans Are Furious About Losing Inside The NBA, But Many Agree There’s An Obvious Silver Lining

It’s been a somewhat sad time for basketball fans, as it has looked very likely that a beloved sports show is on its way out the door. TNT’s Inside the NBA will reportedy be canceled, as the network’s parent company is close to losing the broadcast rights to the sports league. With that, numerous fans (including myself) have expressed disappointment over the prospect of no longer seeing Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and co. on Thursday nights during the regular season. As furious as some longtime viewers are, though, many seem to agree that there’s an obvious silver lining to be found within this situation. 

What Is The Theorized Benefit Of The Basketball Show Going Off The Air?

Anyone who’s ever watched Inside the NBA probably knows that it’s a relatively wild show. Yes, the quartet of hosts do provide thoughtful commentary and analysis on the game of basketball. However, there are also wilder (and quite frankly, laugh-out-loud) moments that end up going viral. Charles Barkley getting pranked with a bucket of water, and Shaquille O’Neal being flung into a Christmas tree are just two moments that come to mind. (And let’s not even get into the craziness of Barkley discussing the “big women of San Antonio.”

Now, moments like that sound wacky enough, but what people seem to be asking themselves now is – how much crazier might the show be if the hosts know they’ll be off the air soon. For context, should the series receive the ax, it would end after the 2024-2025 NBA season, and the four hosts would be well aware that they’d soon be riding into the sunset. So devoted viewers are hoping that with that knowledge in mind, Shaq, “Chuck,” Ernie Johnson and Kenny “The Jet” Smith will go for a no-holds-barred approach to the season. To me, that seems simultaneously reckless and exciting. And based on some comments shared to X, I’m not the only one who likes the idea: 

  • A Charles Barkley that knows he’s fired already might be the great Chuck we ever get. - @ayroned
  • Just gonna be some incredible 'and what else Chuck' bits happening. - @PG3times13
  • Women of San Antonio don’t stand a chance - @pdxbrocialite
  • Next season will be the most watched Inside the NBA ever. - @alldayeric

The sheer thought of the lead stars not having a care in the world amid a send-off season is just too funny not to consider. It would definitely be bittersweet, given it would be fans’ last go-around with them, but the Inside crew would surely make it a season to remember. Charles Barkley and Shaq’s antics are funny as is, but I can’t even imagine what they’d do when knowing that they’d be going off the air anyway.

Why Is Inside The NBA Probably Ending After Nearly Four Decades On TNT?

The demise of Inside has to do with finances, as the stakes for the broadcast rights to the NBA are shifting. Amazon Prime is reportedly working on a deal with the league to have games air on the streamer. Meanwhile, ABC/ESPN is working to maintain its pricey “A” package to maintain its ability to continue broadcasting the games. 

That leaves one more piece of the pie up for grabs, and some might likely think that Warner Bros. Discovery – which owns TNT – would land it. However, faced with an increased price tag for the rights, WBD reportedly refused to pair, opening the door for NBC to swoop in and stake its claim. It seems unlikely that WBD, which is in debt right now, will be able to match NBC’s offer, when presented with the opportunity. The company’s current options are to forsake the league, overpay for the rights or take the NBA to court to dispute the definition of an exact price “match.”

Amid the drama, a few of the hosts themselves have spoken out. Shaquille O’Neal was previously optimistic that WBD CEO David Zaslav would find a way to maintain the rights. Charles Barkley wasn’t as optimistic about that, and he later opened up about why the situation “sucks” and expressed concern for his co-workers, who would be out of work. Though since the cancellation news dropped, Barkley has made jokes, even making the declaration (in a clip shared to X) that he’s currently on LinkedIn. And that just adds fuel to the notion that a send-off season could be too funny.

It’s tough to imagine a season of professional basketball that doesn’t include Inside the NBA. Still, if the show does reach the end of its run in 2025, a wild, “we’re going out with a bang” season is still a somewhat sweet consolation prize.