Shaquille O'Neal was a great player during his career, and he is quite obviously one of the best centers to grace the court in the sport of basketball. Nowadays though, he is well known for being a TV personality on TNT, often opining on the current events of the NBA. His partnership with Charles Barkley, Ernie Johnson, and Kenny Smith on Inside the NBA has become legendary.
His show has widely been successful on TNT, even if some have claimed that Inside the NBA is a bad look for the league. But things could have turned out differently for Shaquille O'Neal regarding what sports media company he would end up working for. During an appearance on an episode of The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast, Shaquille O'Neal revealed that he could have been employed by ESPN and that they said they needed him.
However, Shaquille O'Neal decided to work with Turner Sports (parent organization of TNT) because he was "gonna be OK" if he had a "bad day" at Turner. That was because they said they'd like to have him rather than saying they absolutely need him. O'Neal contrasted with the situation at ESPN stating that it would only "get worse" if a bad day were to occur on ESPN.
Mr. Levy came to my house and he said, ‘We don’t need you, but we would like to have you. ESPN was saying we need you. So, I was thinking if I have a bad day at Turner, I’m gonna be OK. But if I have a bad day at ESPN, it can only get worse.”
Another reason that O'Neal joined up with Turner Sports was due to the presence of Ernie Johnson, someone that O'Neal claimed he had a "different type of love" for and who he "used to watch on TV".
Listen, I have a different type of love for Ernie Johnson,” Ernie Johnson was a guy that I used to watch on TV. He actually came to my house when I was 17 years old to interview me. I love his voice. I love how he treats people.
“I’m not as good as Ernie. So, me being by myself, I’m gonna have to carry. I don’t think my ADHD would allow me to carry a show by myself. Being a teammate on a great team I think has done well for us. … Just being one of the guys is something I enjoy, rather than trying to be the guy. I could never do what Ernie does.
There is no doubt that TNT has been the right place for Shaquille O'Neal, and that many enjoy the way he and his co-hosts cover the game. His opinion is usually well respected as well, as he is one of the legends of the game.
It remains to be seen if Shaquille O'Neal will ever leave TNT. Hopefully, we are able to continue seeing him on the channel for a long time, and he has been an amazing entertainer throughout his whole television career.