The funniest moments in Inside the NBA history

Inside the NBA has been a staple of NBA media coverage on TNT dating back to 1989 when it first aired.

Right now, the main cast is comprised of host Ernie Johnson, who’s been on the show since 1990, Kenny Smith (1998), Charles Barkley (2000) and Shaquille O’Neal (2011), and has featured Magic JohnsonReggie Miller and Chris Webber as featured members in the past.

Today, we’re going to take a look back at some of the most epic and funniest moments in Inside the NBA history, no simple task considering the greatness the show has produced over the years.

Without further ado, let’s take this trip down memory lane.

Infamous Chuck rant on the then-dysfunctional Phoenix Suns

There was a time not that long ago when the Phoenix Suns were a dysfunctional mess, which prompted the firing of then-head coach Jeff Hornacek in 2015-16.

That led to a classic Barkley rant where he talked over the highlights of a Suns loss to the Rockets and absolutely flamed everything about the Suns’ organization from top to bottom, starting with the players being ‘trash’ but then diverted to even the in-arena food at the Suns’ home stadium being horrible.

Ernie tried to give the Suns the benefit of the doubt, saying, ‘They have a bunch of injuries, their top three scorers are out.’ Chuck replied wittily, ‘They wasn’t no good when they had them.’

Smith asked, ‘Chuck, how’s the popcorn in the arena?’ Barkley replied, ‘Stale popcorn.’ O’Neal asked, ‘How are the hot dogs?’ Chuck said, ‘They got those old hard buns.’ Smith asked, ‘How about the soda? Is it flat?’ Barkley replied, ‘Soda’s flat. It’s awful. The beer’s flat, Kenny.’ Shaq asked, ‘What about the pretzels?’ Barkley replied, ‘The pretzels are hard as a rock, you can break a denture.’ O’Neal then asked about the nachos, to which Barkley replied, ‘Oh my God, the cheese is cold.’ Ernie told Barkley that he won’t have to worry about the Suns inviting him to games anymore and Chuck replied, ‘Why would I wanna go watch that? C’mon man.’

Mind you, as Chuck was saying all of these things, the entire cast and even the producers behind the camera were laughing audibly.

Everything Kenny Smith and Shaq sent Barkley’s way, Chuck was able to immediately and astutely mold into a roast of the Suns’ franchise, showcasing the brilliance of Inside the NBA in one six-minute segment.

'It's 1, 2, 3 not 1, 2 back to 1'

One of the moments that has made Ernie crack the hardest, the Inside the NBA boys were discussing a playoff series between the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers back in 2019 in which Nikola Jokic was, as has become the norm, absolutely feasting, leading to Chuck putting up one of his most epic television moments.

Not only did Barkley hijack the segment by interrupting Shaq’s talking time – after he had already gotten his 30 seconds to speak, no less – he did so to make the point that the Blazers should play Alex Len more for his size to try and hinder Jokic.

The problem with that?

Len played for the Atlanta Hawks at the time, who didn’t even make the playoffs that year.

The worst part of that entire debacle is that Shaq, who’s clearly shown he has a bit of an ego, looked legitimately enraged that Chuck would cut into his talking time and refused to give his takes, imploring Ernie to go back to Barkley instead. Shaq would then utter the now-classic line ‘It’s 1, 2, 3 not 1, 2, back to 1.’

Enjoy the moment in all of its hilarity above.

'Hello, police? Chris Paul is trying to beat me up'

There was no love lost between the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets back in 2018-19, not with it being Chris Paul’s second season in Houston after years of being in Los Angeles, and the game taking place at what was then known as the Staples Center.

Regardless, a scuffle broke out on the floor during the game and eventually reportedly continued in the locker room. Things got so dicey that apparently, a police presence was involved to help simmer things down and keep them from escalating even further.

Well, that was all Shaq and Chuck needed to hear before they started laughing it up, with the duo absolutely shocked that police would need to be involved for what looked like a pretty minor scuffle on the court. Barkley mimicking a scared Blake Griffin asking the police to protect him from Chris Paul was particularly hilarious.

Chuck vs. Shaq three-point contest

There’s nothing more entertaining than watching NBA stars of yester-year relive their glory days and compete in anything athletic.

That was particularly the case when Chuck and Shaq, two of the greatest three-point marksmen in NBA history, according to Ernie, squared off in a quick in-studio three-point contest narrated by Kenny Smith, an actual outside shooting specialist.

The funniest part of the entire segment?

Shaq, who made one three in his entire NBA career, sank his first shot and won the contest.

Chuck vs. Ernie three-point shootout

That wasn’t the only time the legends over at Inside the NBA put on a three-point contest against one another, as the same happened in 2016 when Chuck and Ernie went at in a more realistic three-point shootout, one involving racks at different positions on an actual NBA court, All-Star weekend style.

The result was the same, though, as Barkley once again was defeated, this time by a career media member with zero NBA experience in Johnson.

'Nǐ hǎo!'

A historically great segment Inside the NBA would put on was called “Who He Play For?”

It involved the panel trying to guess – because there’s little chance they actually knew this stuff off the top of their heads – which teams career NBA journeymen were on at the time, leading to various hilarious moments and a whole lot of chaos.

The most memorable moment to come out of that segment was back in Shaq’s rookie season on the show. However, it was Barkley who would be the subject of some hazing in this instance, as the producers pranked Chuck by asking which team Aaron Brooks played for.

Brooks played in China at the time, which Shaq was tipped off to, as his whiteboard read Guangdong Tigers in perfect Chinese characters. To his credit, Barkley did answer that Brooks played in either China or Japan but that didn’t stop this segment from being any less epic.

Shaq running around the studio yelling ‘Nǐ hǎo!’ – ‘Hello’ in Chinese – to celebrate is truly one of the funniest moments Inside the NBA ever produced.

The gas money debacle

One of the funniest and most memorable segments in Inside the NBA history came when the crew discussed something completely unrelated to basketball, and that was: When is the best time to refill your gas tank?

To save money, Shaq believed full-heartedly that it was best to refill your gas tank when it was halfway full so that instead of paying $80 to fill an entire tank, you’d be paying $40. What the self-proclaimed Big Aristotle failed to account for is that that would entail having to take twice as many trips to the gas station, meaning that in reality, you’d be saving no money at all, which the rest of the crew, particularly Kenny, who was debating buying a new car, was quick to point out.

Enjoy the entire hilarious debate above.

Derrick White catches a roasting

If there’s one thing about Inside the NBA, it’s that it’s old school, meaning the crew isn’t afraid to playfully rib current and former players. So if you don’t enjoy a good roasting, this part of the article isn’t for you.

After a big playoff win for the Boston Celtics in 2023 that saw Derrick White have a huge performance – 26 points on 11-of-16 shooting – the cast of Inside the NBA became quickly distracted by White’s appearance, so instead of praising the talented guard for his big performance, Chuck and Shaq went straight to roasting his hairline.

Barkley opened things up by laughing and asking if that was Derrick White on the screen or Stephen A. Smith, and things just went downhill from there.

Kudos to Ernie and Kenny Smith for trying to keep things on track and praising White as a player, at least.

Charles Barkley vs. the women of San Antonio

It would be a mistake if we discussed the most epic Inside the NBA moments in history without bringing up Barkley’s long-time rivalry with the women of San Antonio.

Now, we don’t condone anything he said, nor do we think his comments aged all that well – they weren’t 100 percent well-received at the time, either, considering he was asked to make on-air apologies on the matter – but we also can’t say some of his comments weren’t hilarious.

You can watch the video above and decide for yourself whether Barkley was being funny or if he was completely out of line, though.

The Jussie Smollett saga reaches Inside the NBA

For those who don’t remember, Jussie Smollett was a well-known actor and singer for many years until an ugly fall from grace in 2019 when he staged a hate crime, paying two men, who were brothers, to attack him outside of his apartment building while yelling racial and homophobic slurs. Smollett would be charged with filing a false police report, a felony, and eventually was sentenced to jail time and had to pay roughly $150,000 in fines.

Well, it wasn’t long before that matter reached the guys at Inside the NBA, who hilariously roasted Smollett for paying his supposed attackers with a check.

Barkley would famously tell America, ‘If you’re going to break the law, do not write a check,’ during the segment as everyone in the studio cackled.

'How long is that flight to the moon?'

When American hero, astronaut John Glenn sadly passed away in 2016, the Inside the NBA guys got up to their old tricks. Of course, it wasn’t Glenn who was the subject of any sort of mocking but when Chuck mentioned it being sad that Glenn passed away, Shaq apparently immediately asked ‘How long is that flight to the moon?’

That led to a hilarious and very memorable segment on the show, one that prompted O’Neal to say on air that he believed if a flight from Atlanta to California was about five hours long, then a ‘flight’ to the moon should be about 10 to 11 hours.

The correct answer, which Shaq found at the end of the segment, was that it takes around three days to get to the moon.


A staple of Inside the NBA’s halftime segment is Kenny Smith walking over to the big video board to break down plays and patterns from whatever game TNT is showing that night. Over the years, Shaq has made it a habit to race Smith up to the video board for no reason but to beat him in a race.

That has led to various moments of hilarity, including this one, when O’Neal, all 7-foot-1 and 325 pounds of him, tripped and went toppling off the set as laughter echoed throughout the studio.

'Kenny, bring me some water?'

Perhaps not as viral of a moment as many of the other ones on this list, this one-liner just shows the brilliance of the Inside the NBA crew and of Barkley in particular, who is so quick and on point with his quips that a lot of them don’t even get the attention they deserve.

In this one, Kenny Smith, fully ready to go on one of his diatribes about knowing what it’s like to be a champion from his two title runs with the Houston Rockets, said, ‘Hakeem Olajuwon used to say this to me all the time.’

Chuck, never one to miss up an opportunity when he gets set up like that, immediately replied, ‘Kenny, bring me some water?’ indicating that Smith was a water boy for Olajuwon on those two championship teams more than anything else.

Of course, that wasn’t true but that didn’t stop Barkley’s comment from being absolutely hilarious – and underrated historically in Inside the NBA lore.

'Because if you can feel their body... c'mon'

One of the best parts of Inside the NBA is the fact that it lets viewers feel like a kid again, one who is allowed to laugh when something is funny and not be so uptight about everything.

That’s presented well in this clip, where Barkley – for once – is trying to actually break something down for fans and explain what makes a player like Jokic so difficult for fellow big men to defend. Unfortunately for Chuck, his uninentionlly funny wording – he talked about what it’s like to feel ‘when a guy is banging you’ in the post – led to Shaq breaking down and laughing to completely interrupt and upstage the segment.

'James Harden got traded, he's healthy now!'

What makes the NBA so unique is how close of a relationship the league has with its media partners, leading to moments like this one when the All-Star captains in 2022 Kevin Durant and LeBron James went on Inside the NBA to draft their respective All-Star teams.

What made this draft so interesting, however, was the fact that James Harden had just had his trade request from the Brooklyn Nets, Durant’s team at the time, fulfilled, so after weeks of missing action due to a supposed injury, Harden was finally set to move on from the Nets and join the Philadelphia 76ers.

Harden was also an All-Star that year, leading to a bit of awkwardness on set regarding whether or not Durant would draft him. Well, LeBron sort of broke the ice by asking if Harden was healthy enough to play in the All-Star Game that year, to which Barkley brilliantly responded, ‘Oh, he got traded, he’s healthy now!’ which even got Durant to crack a smile despite his negative history with Chuck.

Barkley wasn’t all that far off, either, as although Harden did miss the Feb. 20 All-Star Game that year, he suited up for the Sixers merely five days later and put up 27, eight and 12 on seven-for-12 shooting in his Philadelphia debut.

That just goes to show even when Barkley is being facetious, there is always a hint of truth behind his comments.

'Who do they mistake you for, Shrek?'

One of the funniest one-liner roasts by Barkley in Inside the NBA history, and that’s a high bar to clear, O’Neal was about to tell a story about getting mistaken for another celebrity, which obviously is hard to believe considering his size and superstar status.

Barkley, never one to miss an opening, heard Ernie Johnson ask Shaq, ‘Who did they mistake you for?’ to which Barkley immediately replied, ‘Shrek?’

That led to one of Johnson’s biggest laughing episodes in the history of the show, as well as to a bonus hilarious moment when O’Neal, visibly annoyed due to getting laughed at by the producers behind the camera, took his glasses off and looked around backstage to find out who exactly was laughing at him.

‘You laughing, Anthony?’

Chuck goes off on troll

Another amazing aspect of Inside the NBA is that even fans aren’t safe from the roasting, as evidenced by Barkley in 2018 going off on a Laker fan who had tweeted the following at him:

Barkley literally stopped the show from going to commercials to roast the troll in the video clip above. We’d summarize it more for you but it does get a bit vulgar. What we can assure you is that it was absolutely hilarious and well worth your 30 seconds.

'That should be more like $1.99'

Kudos are owed to the Inside the NBA crew, who will even make fun of the league they cover if it deserves it, as evidenced in this epic moment in which the NBA was trying to charge fans $6.99 to watch a Los Angeles Lakers vs. Milwaukee Bucks game on Feb. 10, 2017, leading to hilarity on Inside the NBA.

Mind you, these weren’t the LeBron/AD Lakers or even the late-era Kobe Bryant Lakers – these Lakers were 18-37 at the time while the Bucks weren’t much better, sitting at 22-29.

Fans should have been getting paid $6.99 to watch that game, not getting charged for it.

Chris Webber initiation

Back when Chris Webber joined Inside the NBA in 2008, his initiation was a simple pop quiz featuring questions such as ‘What is Charles Barkley’s favorite doughnut?’ and ‘Who is the only white guy on the set?’

Things got hilarious when the final question that popped up was ‘In college basketball, how many timeouts do you get in a game?’ which led to audible gasps from the rest of the crew.

‘That’s the type of love I get?’ Webber would reply, but overall, he was a great sport about it, laughing it off and joking around with the rest of the cast. Ernie Johnson would joke, ‘Lucky for you, you only need to get four out of five correct!’

Shaq takes on the Hot Chip Challenge

Shaq, a legend for his reactions to eating very spicy foods on screen, once took on the Hot Chip Challenge, a trend from 2017 that went viral.

O’Neal would bet Barkley $20 that he could eat the spiciest chip in the world and not make a face, a bet he would quickly lose after falling apart, though, to his credit, it took roughly 20 seconds for the Hot Chip to fully defeat Shaq.

The funniest moment came when O’Neal started coughing and tearing up while claiming that didn’t count as ‘making a face’ before fully admitting defeat and saying ‘Oh, it’s hot. Anyone got some milk?’

Zion Williamson catches a roasting from the crew

Former No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson has developed a bit of a reputation for not being able to maintain an elite level of fitness.

When footage came out of Williamson warming up before a game as he was nursing an injury, footage in which the former Duke standout looked particularly out of shape, the jokes started to fly on Inside the NBA.

‘It looks like me and Shaq had a baby,’ Barkley would proclaim, poking fun at himself and his fellow cast member for being a bit overweight themselves, which prompted O’Neal to walk off stage in a fit of laughter.

Barkley would go on to give Williamson some great – and real – advice about needing to keep his weight in check, which it looks like the NBA star has adhered to considering he’s been much healthier and effective in 2023-24 so far.

Chuck forgets who he wanted to shout out

If there’s one rule of shouting someone out on television, it’s that you should probably remember the person’s name whom you’re about to shout out.

Of course, that rule doesn’t apply on the chaos that is the set of Inside the NBA, as exemplified by Barkley announcing he wanted to give someone a shoutout only to immediately freeze as utter silence filled the air of the studio.

Utter silence until an eruption of laughter after Barkley leaned in and asked, ‘…what’s the coach in Houston?’

For what it’s worth, his shoutout was for Rick Adelman, who had the Rockets playing great basketball with an injured Yao Ming missing action at the time.

'Danny Green don't have any human friends?'

After a poignant segment in which former NBA sharpshooter Danny Green talked about how he views the competition among NBA players as he played with animals at a zoo, Barkley said, ‘You know what Ernie? Every time I see that guy [Green], he’s playing with animals. He don’t have no human friends? C’mon man.’

Naturally that led to an eruption of laughter on set in what of Inside the NBA’s most underrated moments.

'They be woofin' them churros'

Never one afraid to double down, Chuck had Shaq and the crew in stitches when he decided to imitate how San Antonio women eat churros.

‘They be woofin’ them churros,’ Barkley said as he motioned with both hands as if to say San Antonio women double-fist churros as they eat them two at a time.

This was probably one of the moments that had Shaq laughing the hardest, as the image of O’Neal hunched over the table in stitches cracking up has remained a popular GIF to this day.

Kenny's skinny suit pants

In what became a brief running gag on the show, Kenny Smith was mocked incessantly because of the very tight size of his suit pants that showed his bare ankles, leading to a side-by-side comparison of him and a dog with skinny legs standing up on its hind two paws.

‘Was it raining in California?’ asked Chuck. ‘What’s the deal with those pants, man?’ Ernie Johnson added in.

Kudos to Smith for continuing to take fashion risks at his age on national television. It would only take one roast session like that from the Inside the NBA crew before many other fashion risk-takers would fold and start to dress normally.

Not Smith, though.

Kenny Smith hits the beach with a friend

Another classic Kenny moment came just last year when pictures of him and his 39-year-old girlfriend leaked as the pair were seen getting cozy in the water of a beautiful Miami beach.

Of course, the Inside the NBA crew couldn’t resist roasting Smith about it the next time the show aired, as Ernie asked the guys, ‘Any photos you guys wanna share from the weekend?’ to which Barkley immediately responded, ‘I got one of Kenny.’

Smith tried to avoid the topic and say he attended a Formula 1 race for the first time that weekend but made the mistake of saying he hung out with Shaq a lot that weekend, too, to which a cackling O’Neal said, ‘No no no there wasn’t no Shaq there.’

It’s great The Jet is so willing to be the show’s punching bag. Inside the NBA might not be as brilliant with someone with a Shaq- or Chuck-level ego sharing the studio with them.

Chuck gets startled by a stuffed animal

In one of the more random Inside the NBA memorable moments, Ernie Johnson tossed a stuffed bunny rabbit at Barkley, which Chuck had the most peculiar reaction to, dropping the toy animal thinking it was a real dead rabbit or something.

Only on Inside the NBA.

Story originally appeared on HoopsHype