Ernie Johnson Gives Fans A Peek Behind The Curtain At ‘Inside The NBA’ In New Interview

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When TNT spent a preposterous amount of money to re-sign Charles Barkley late last year, not a single NBA fan batted an eyelash.

Because those fans who watch regularly know that Barkley, as well as his three co-hosts, make ‘Inside the NBA’ must-watch television for basketball fans week in and week out.

The studio show does plenty of thoughtful basketball analysis. But more than anything, Barkley and co-hosts Ernie John, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith have a type of chemistry that jumps off the screen.

What is it that makes the quartet such a good fit?

Well, thank to Uproxx’s Robby Kalland, we now have some idea.

Kalland sat down with Johnson recently for an interview, and the longtime host revealed just what makes the show tick.

“I’m the rogue traffic cop, the guy who does want some collisions at his intersection,” Johnson told Kalland when asked about segments that often go off the rails. “I think after working with these guys for so long, I know that in my prep if I bring up this point, Charles is going to jump on it. And I also know that Shaq is probably going to broadside Charles when he says something. It’s that familiarity with each other and knowing how we all think, that’s what makes it work. And that’s what makes it possible to do that show without rehearsing at all. We never do that. We never sit down and run through a segment. It’s just whatever you see right there is genuine gut level reaction. And I think that’s been the key to the show for years.”

It’s that controlled chaos, which Johnson orchestrates, that viewer have to come love. And the hosts know this as well.

“I mean,” Johnson said, “Every one of our shows is somewhere between a walk on the beach and a train wreck.”

The interview also talks about how TNT has given the hosts latitude to go over or under their allotted time. As well as how they manage to reign in halftime segments when time is more limited.

It’s a fantastic look behind the curtain of perhaps the best studio show in sports.