The hosts of Inside the NBA, in particular Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, know quite a bit about high-level basketball and how to entertain hoops fans, but they notoriously can be a bit shoddy on the details. TNT viewers were reminded of this on Thursday night when, because while he was wrapping up an interview with Nuggets star and MVP front-runner Nikola Jokic, Shaq tried to drop in a bit of Russian.
The Joker cleverly parried the blow and turned things back on Shaq, reminding the legend that what he was speaking was, in fact, Russian. Then, host Eddie Johnson had to remind the Big Aristotle that Jokic is Serbian.
Shaq’s reply? A guilty chuckle and a coy “my bad.”
“He’s not Russian? I thought he was Russian?”
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 15, 2021
Jokic took it like a sport, but the other Inside hosts made sure to jeer Shaq a bit more, with Kenny Smith joking that Shaq should have asked Jokic a follow-up question of how it was to grow up in Moscow.
Ever the gentleman, Johnson prodded Shaq by saying the Russian was “a nice touch.”
In some ways this is all pretty silly, but also, for a show that is often built around making fun of NBA players’ mistakes or not knowing who certain players even are, the fact that Shaq was a bit embarrassed at his mistake shows in its own way the level of respect that Jokic has earned among the legends of the game.