The Inside the NBA crew over at TNT gives us a lot of laughs every week. Shaq, Kenny, Ernie, and Chuck comprise easily one of the most entertaining panels of basketball “analysts” on television. We put “analysts” in scare quotes not because they aren’t knowledgeable about the game, but because they like to get sidetracked yucking it up about any number of tangentially-related topics.
But they also know when it’s time to get real. When Kenny’s mother, Anna Mae Smith, passed away a couple of weeks ago, it was Ernie who delivered a heartfelt message to fans written by his friend and long-time colleague. The topic of loss came up again on Sunday night when the gang stood in awe of how Patrick Beverley was able to perform in the aftermath of his grandfather’s death.
Chuck then used the opportunity to talk about how proud he was of Kenny for being able to give such an eloquent eulogy at his mother’s funeral, and then in a rare moment of vulnerability, discussed his “jealousy,” but moreso his admiration, over the fact that both Kenny and Ernie had parents who stayed together for the long haul.
“I don’t get jealous of many people often,” Barkley said. “I don’t worry about people’s cars, houses, and things like that. Somebody else is always gonna have more money, houses, and cars. But I’ll tell you this, the one thing I respect about both of you guys, y’all had the most amazing parents. You know, when Ernie’s dad passed way, I just felt so bad, and I feel the same way with your mom, because I love my mom and I love my dad, but obviously they weren’t together. But growing up, I had never really seen great relationships where parents were together, like, forever. I’ve always been jealous of y’all’s parents because they were amazing people.”
Barkley, who grew up in a single-parent household in rural Alabama, has certainly built a reputation and a career for his unfiltered remarks on many topics, but it’s also his willingness to tackle serious subjects that makes him one of the most compelling figures in sports media.