Fresh off his retirement from the NBA, future Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal agreed to join TNT’s “Inside the NBA” program as an in-studio analyst, Turner Broadcasting said Thursday.
“We are thrilled to have Shaquille O’Neal join Turner Sports and our marquee roster of announcers and analysts,” said David Levy, president of sales, distribution and sports for Turner Broadcasting System Inc.
“His unique insights, perspective as one of the league’s all-time great players and personality will be the perfect complement to our award-winning studio team of Ernie, Kenny and Charles, as well as to our programming on NBA TV and NBA.com.”
O’Neal, who announced his retirement June 1 after an injury-plagued 19th season with the Boston Celtics, will join the studio team of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley on NBA telecasts. He will also make appearances on NBA TV and NBA.com.
The four-time NBA champion and 15-time All-Star indicated shortly after his retirement that he was looking for a television gig, even hinting in a web video that ESPN was interested in hiring him.
“I felt Turner and TNT was the place for me. It’s always been my favorite show. I just thought that was the best fit for me,” said O’Neal, according to the Los Angeles Times. He did not say whether he had received offers from ESPN or other networks.
O’Neal, 39, said he is looking forward to joining “Inside the NBA,” which he called “already a great show.” NBA fans will undoubtedly look forward to the exchanges between O’Neal and the outspoken Barkley.
“Charles is a funny guy,” O’Neal said. “He’s a guy who says what’s on his mind and makes it interesting. That won’t be hard for me. The good thing about this show is that everybody has his own opinion. Kenny’s a guard, he has the guard’s opinion; Charles is a forward, has the forward’s opinion; my opinion comes from the center’s point of view. I know it will work out very well.”
Shaq — who was nicknamed “The Big Aristotle” during his career and “The Big AARP” following his retirement — was quickly given a new moniker, “The Big Analytical,” by Smith after the announcement.
Barkley reacted enthusiastically to the news, saying in a statement, “He is a great addition to our team and in the immortal words of (New York Jets linebacker) Bart Scott … CAN’T WAIT!”
As part of the agreement, O’Neal also received a development deal with Turner Broadcasting’s entertainment and animation networks, which include TBS and Cartoon Network.
Read more at the New York Post where this story was originally published.