The 2017-18 season kicked off in grand fashion this week, with a slate of NBA games that would get any fan excited. At the same time, the beginning of the season also means that the hilarious NBA on TNT cast of Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson, and Charles Barkley are back on the air.
Last year also saw the introduction of Kevin Garnett’s ‘Area 21’ segments and to start off this season, the NBA on TNT crews decided to bring in some high caliber guests, especially with the Los Angeles Lakers on national television.
Los Angeles Sparks forward Candance Parker and Los Angeles sports fanatic and hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg made appearances, supporting their counterparts in the Los Angeles area.
While both sets were going back and forth, O’Neal decided to chime in with an interesting question to Snoop Dogg. He presented a scenario where Snoop had to list with all-time Lakers starting lineup, with many legends donning the purple and yellow jersey. After gathering his thoughts, Snoop presented his lineup and saw a hilarious conversation ensue:
Shaquille O’Neal: “Snoop, I always wanted to ask you this. I know you’re a big-time Laker fan. Give me your top five Lakers by position.”
Snoop Dogg: “That’s a great question, Shaq. I’m going to start off with Wilt The Stilt. … Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, James Worthy and Magic Johnson. I couldn’t slide Silk in there.”
Ernie Johnson: “What’s Kareem got to do to make your list?”
Shaquille O’Neal: “He ain’t got to do nothing. He’s the third-best big man. Cap is the third-best big man.”
Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley: “Wait, you think you’re better than Kareem?”
Shaquille O’Neal: “It goes Shaq, Wilt, then Kareem. BBQ chicken down there, both of them.”
Charles Barkley: “Come on, man. Wilt, Kareem and George Mikan are ahead of you at just the center spot.”
Shaquille O’Neal to Charles Barkley: “First of all, I don’t even know why I’m talking to you.”
A lineup of O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Wilt Chamberlain would be pretty much unstoppable, with two of the top five centers of all-time put together. Johnson presented an interesting hypothetical, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar being left off the list.
Barkley and Smith, who played against Abdul-Jabbar, immediately turned on O’Neal, who presented himself as better than ‘The Captain’. O’Neal, who received a statue and had his jersey retired these past few seasons, has always remained confident in his abilities, as perhaps the most dominant NBA player of all-time. At that point, the NBA on TNT set transgressed to their usual madness, headlined by a hilarious argument between Barkley and O’Neal.
Johnson regularly has to decipher and control the madness, usually doing a magnificent job while live on air. O’Neal and Barkley can be quite the duo to control, especially when they start going back and forth or are conversing with Kevin Garnett and his special guests at the Area 21 set.
The omission of Abdul-Jabbar was perhaps the only interesting decision regarding that list, outside of Jerry West being second behind Johnson. Whether validated by NBA 2K18 or by any NBA historian, it is hard to argue that the Lakers wouldn’t have the best starting lineup in the history of the NBA.