'Too Far?': Shaq and Barkley Under Fire After Laughing So Hard at Injury Report, the Entire Segment Derails
Part of the charm of the wildly beloved “Inside the NBA” show is the comedic banter between NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley.
Those two, especially together, are an uncensored, unvarnished and unedited pairing of brutal honesty that is seldom seen anywhere else in the sports media landscape. They’ve undeniably been a part of why “Inside the NBA” has seen the success it has.
They are also the reason the show is currently under fire.
Controversy struck the set of “Inside the NBA” during its post-game coverage of the Golden State Warriors beating the Los Angeles Lakers 121-106 on Wednesday night.
The Warriors’ win helped the defending NBA champions stave off elimination for another game, as they still trail the Lakers in the series three games to two. There were plenty of storylines to dissect, from Lakers star LeBron James failing to close the series out, to whatever further adjustments Warriors coach Steve Kerr could make to steal another game back.
There was also the matter of Lakers star big man Anthony Davis. Already saddled with a reputation for being a bit brittle, Davis left the game early after getting hit in the head by Golden State’s Kevon Looney:
AD will NOT return after getting hit in the face by Kevon Looney. pic.twitter.com/IIAMDR45GP
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 11, 2023
While Davis appears to have ultimately avoided a concussion, reports also began circulating that the 6-foot-10, 253-pound big man had to be helped into a wheelchair:
It appears that Anthony Davis has avoided a concussion, per @ChrisBHaynes pic.twitter.com/MG6d7YROdh
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 11, 2023
That little nugget of information was apparently too much for O’Neal and Barkley to handle when “Inside the NBA” got around to discussing the Lakers-Warriors series. As co-host Kenny Smith began his analysis of the series, he was interrupted by a round of chortles and snickers from Barkley and O’Neal. Those laughs eventually ballooned into full-throated guffaws.
Despite attempts by co-host Ernie Johnson to get the show, or at least the two Hall of Fame big men he was working with, back on track, O’Neal and Barkley could not stop themselves from escalating that laughter.
At one point, O’Neal was genuinely clutching his tie and chest as he was laughing so hard.
While the reaction appeared genuine, some viewers couldn’t shake the fact that O’Neal and Barkley were, technically, laughing at the circumstances surrounding someone’s head injury.
One prominent NBA meme Twitter account asked if two went “too far” when it re-posted the whole segment:
Did Shaq and Chuck go too far?pic.twitter.com/qptE33w1ZI
— NBA Memes (@NBAMemes) May 11, 2023
While never expressly stated, the two were laughing at the idea of an NBA power forward needing a wheelchair for a headache. Or, at least, that would be the old-school way of looking at it (and make no mistake, O’Neal and Barkley are decidedly old-school).
Apparently, Barkley and O’Neal’s guffawing was a bridge too far for most of those on social media, who were aghast at the antics of the two.
One sports medicine doctor took to Twitter to blast the entire segment as “absolute garbage.” Another doctor on Twitter called the episode “despicable” and “unacceptable behavior.”
A look at any number of comments underneath the above tweets shows that there was a lot of outrage shared among the NBA Twittersphere.
In fact, the general backlash to the injury coverage was so severe that sports pundit Stephen A. Smith issued an apology for the way he personally covered it on ESPN:
Blow back is Blow back. Comes with the territory, peeps. I was in no way minimizing the seriousness of a concussion. I was questioning whether Anthony Davis really had one, considering the play I saw & other hits I’ve seen him absorb. But, bottom line, it was wrong for me to do.…
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 11, 2023
For now, there is no word on any punishment for Barkley and O’Neal.
Coincidentally, Game 5 of the Lakers-Warriors series is the last one for TNT and “Inside the NBA.”
Game 6 of the series will be Friday and broadcast on ESPN. Game 7, should one be needed, would air on ABC.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.