VIDEO: Stephen A. Smith makes pitch for ESPN, Amazon, or NBC to hire Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith in 2025

stephen a. smith
Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being with a competing network, Stephen A. Smith knows what “Inside the NBA” co-hosts Charles Barley, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenny Smith mean to basketball and believes the networks getting NBA media rights next year should bring in all three for their own pre and post-game shows.

The NBA formalizing new media rights deals with ESPN, Amazon Prime, and NBC has sent shockwaves through the media side of the industry. While ESPN and Amazon were expected to be serious contenders to get NBA television content after next season, NBC getting rights instead of Warner Bros./Discovery — the parent company of TNT — has major ramifications.

Also Read: TNT reveals final plans for Inside the NBA crew of Shaq, Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson

The most notable of which is the fact that the beloved NBA pre and post-game show “Inside the NBA” will end in 2025. The quartet of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O’Neal are highly entertaining and are one of the most popular studio teams in all of sports media.

That is why highly successful ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith took to his YouTube channel for a recent edition of the “Stephen A. Smith Show” to make a subtle and surprising pitch to ESPN, Amazon, and NBC to bring in the popular team for their networks and streaming services.

Stephen A. Smith makes impassioned pitch for another network to hire ‘Inside the NBA’ trio

“I know television, and I know I don’t give a damn what network you are, if you have an opportunity to have Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenny Smith together you do not break that up,” Smith said. “I don’t give a s*** what anybody says. You keep that together. You don’t mess with it at all. They are going to have Sunday night basketball, let them be your Sunday night basketball [team]. Bring all three of them with you.”

Also Read: TNT pivots to college football coverage in sublicensing deal with ESPN

What’s interesting about Smith’s comments is that Ernie Johnson, the lead voice of the show, is omitted from his pitch. However, the popular talking head believes if you can hire all four a network or streamer should, but due to Johnson’s long history with TNT and TBS, the belief around the industry is that the 67-year-old will retire after the group’s run ends next season.

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