Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Why Does TNT Think Magic Johnson on "Inside the NBA" is a Good Idea?

You know what I've never heard before? "Man, Inside the NBA is pretty good, but it is just missing something, ya know?"

I've also never heard, "Hey, I was watching
Inside the NBA last night and I thought that they needed some one to the left of Ernie. I mean, there's all this space over there...why don't they use it?"

Similarly, no one has ever said to me, "Hey, don't you think
Inside the NBA could use someone who talked very slow and methodically and made very broad, very obvious statements? I really think that could take the show to a whole new level."

It seems to me that it was a pretty universally agreed upon truth that Inside the NBA was the perfect NBA studio show. It won awards and stuff, right? Everyone loves it, don't they?

When you are settling in to watch that evening's NBA slate of games, and you flick to TNT, and you see Kyra Sedgewick fumbling through her purse (Seriously, what the hell is she always doing that for? Do the criminals in that show just tell her shit while she's digging through there?) and then you flick to ESPN to see Bill Walton's shit-eating grin, doesn't your stomach sink a little?

Ernie, Kenny and Chuck have stumbled upon studio show gold, but for some reason TNT thinks it's a marvelous idea to throw Magic Johnson into the mix. Where they got this notion escapes me, but they seem pretty geeked about it.

I've come up with two theories. First, TNT thinks Magic really brings insightful analysis to the table; his clever, engaging banter with the fellas helps the show flow smoothly from one segment to the next and viewers tune it just to see his charming smile. I quickly dismissed this as preposterous, however, and settled on theory number two: Magic hangs around in the Green Room and they just can't get rid of him.

I think when Kenny and Chuck walk into the studio, they walk past Ernie (who has obviously been there for hours already), he gives them The Look and they just know.
Shit. Magic is here again. Then Magic comes bouncing out of the green room with two Diet Cokes and three plates full of snacks, grinning from ear to ear, trying to slap high fives and balance his food at the same time. The producers have tried to tell him that he isn't scheduled for next show, but he convienently forgets, and hey, since I'm here, I might as well go on! Right? Huh, guys! Right!?!?!

That has to be it. Because no one at TNT can watch the show with him and then watch it without him and possibly think that his presence makes the show better.

Listen, I
like Magic Johnson. I think he's a good guy, has a passion for basketball, seems fairly knowledgeable about the game. He's been very successful in many other areas of his life: he is one of the greatest players ever, he is a terrific inner-city businessman; he inexplicably and super-humanly somehow defeated AIDS. But he's just not good with a microphone clipped to his collar. Doesn't mean he isn't an accomplished dude, just means he's killing one of the reasons playoff basketball is so great.

(But seriously, he defeated AIDS! That's impossible, right? Hell, if I did that, I would probably convince myself I could do anything I wanted to, too. He should try to scale Everest.)

It is just excrutating with him involved. Ernie will broach a new topic, then turn to his left, say "Magic, what do you think of that?" and then Magic will make the same point he's been making for a week, slowly and methodically, using his hands as much as possible, while everyone patiently waits for him to finish, like when the teacher accidentally calls on the dyslexic kid who reads the same line five times before some one has the heart to tell him to move on. Then Kenny and Chuck talk, and its like waking up from a terrible nap. Oh, there we go...people talking that I want to listen to...what just happened there? I blacked out for a minute.

Kenny and Chuck go out of their way to include him on the conversations, and hesitate to disagree with him. Ernie, Kenny and Chuck all argue with each other like they are brothers; with Magic, they are reticent to bust his chops too much, probably because they are afraid he won't get it. It's just all so akward, everyone handling him with kid gloves. The reason the show is so great is because of its spontaneity; with Magic, its like he gets his turn to talk and then the real show resumes.

Basically, he's ruining everything.

And even besides all that, he just looks stupid and out of place sitting over there by himself on the left. I like to think that when he shows up, the head producer belts out over the PA system, "Get out The Magic Desk!" while Ernie, Kenny and Chuck all mumble
son of a bitch! under thier breaths.

Soon enough, they are going to be actively thinking of ways to get rid of him, kind of like ABC with Paul McGuire when they stuck him in that ludicrous roving ladder thing and he was somehow ever
more annoying. Magic on a roving ladder would be a splendid idea, I think, if only because an in-studio wreck would be the greatest moment ever on Inside the NBA.

Hey, "in-studio wreck" pretty well sums up Magic to begin with, eh?

6 comments so far. Might as well add your own.:

twins15 said...

I agree 110%. I could sit there and listen to EJ, Kenny, and Charles all night... they're smart, funny, and wildly entertaining. Magic is just terrible on the show... he's not funny, he's not particularly insightful, and 99 times out of 100 I'd rather hear Kenny, Charles, or EJ rather than Magic.

Anonymous said...

I'm a lifelong Lakers fan and love Magic, but I have to agree with you. The other guys are so good and have such a good rapport that it makes him even more conspicuous.

Lar said...

I couldn't agree more. I figured it was actually Charles and Kenny who kept Magic around though. They were NBA contempararies and probably like hanging out, whether or not Magic is any good. By the way, my favorite thing about Magic is when he says, "Also too," while continuing one of his points. I try to work also too into all my conversations, and heck, it cracks me up when Magic says it on the air so I guess he's good for something.

Left out of this discussion is the fact that I think Reggie Miller is actually a great addition to the studio show. He's insightful, he's funny, and the atmosphere does not come down at all when he's on the show. They recently made fun of him for being on Cold Case (I think) and filming some scenes that were just flipped around to make it look like he took more shots than he did. Hillarious. I was hoping that Reggie's addition meant the end of Magic, but we're clearly not rid of him.

Then again, it's a trend in sports to have awful announcers and commentators around for no good reason. Joe Theisman had a long career being an awful announcer. Who knows why? Probably because nobody ever figures out how the fans feel about these things.

incognegro said...

I think Magic is great for all the same reasons you say he sucks. Its totally unintentional comedy, which is the best kind. Remember his late night talk show? Priceless.

Rickey Henderson said...

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naptown drew said...

They must keep him on now. He's threatened to give them all AIDS but not the antidote.