Turner Sports Officially Names Shaquille O'Neal Analyst For TNT's NBA Coverage
Turner Sports announced today a multiyear agreement with recently retired NBAer Shaquille O’Neal to serve as an analyst across its portfolio of NBA assets. O’Neal beginning with the ‘11-12 NBA season will join TNT as a full-time analyst on the network’s "Inside the NBA" studio show, alongside Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley. In addition, he will be a part of the network’s NBA All-Star Weekend and NBA Playoffs coverage. The agreement also includes a development deal with Turner’s entertainment and animation networks (Turner). SI.com’s Richard Deitsch notes O’Neal “replaces Chris Webber as the fourth member of the studio.” O'Neal is an “outgoing, charming figure but not nearly as candid or open as Barkley was as a player,” and the "jury is still out on whether those skills will translate to a star analyst.” However, what makes TNT a “potentially good fit for O’Neal is ‘Inside the NBA’ already has a natural flow, and longtime stars in Barkley and Smith.” Deitsch: “O’Neal will not have to be the dominant figure on set; he just needs to be interesting” (SI.com, 7/14). In Boston, Chad Finn writes, “The chemistry on the program between Johnson, Smith, and Barkley has made the five-time Emmy-winning program arguably the best sports studio show on television. O'Neal outsized personality may change the dynamic somewhat, but the interaction between the charismatic O'Neal and the outrageous and hilarious Barkley should make for compelling television” (BOSTON.com, 7/14). Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Don Walker wrote on his Twitter account, “Shaq is joining Turner Sports. With Charles in Charge also in the studio, will this be comedy or basketball? Or both?” CSN Bay Area’s Ray Ratto: “My God, they ruined the show already" (TWITTER.com, 7/14).