The “NBA on TNT” is a TV program that attempts to provide entertainment, not basketball analysis, but could the guys on the panel at least learn the names of players in the league? Is that too much to ask?
Yes, apparently. During Thursday night’s edition of the show, Ernie Johnson introduced a new segment titled “Shaq’s First Name Game.” The idea is simple: Johnson gives Shaquille O’Neal the last name of an NBA player, and O’Neal must provide the first name. No stats, no fun facts, only the first name.
Shouldn’t be that difficult for someone who is paid handsomely to talk about the NBA on a regular basis, right?
Shaq correctly named one player, and Johnson suspected he received a tip in order to avoid an 0-for-5 performance. (He still got one more than Charles Barkley did on “Who He Play For?” in December.)
- Correct answer: Hornets guard Malik Monk; Shaq’s answer: Eli Monk
- Correct answer: Kings center Richaun Holmes; Shaq’s answer: John Holmes
- Correct answer: Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley; Shaq’s answer: Jerrod Quickley
- Correct answer: Knicks center Mitchell Robinson; Shaq’s answer: Stuart Robinson
- Correct answer: Desmond Bane; Shaq’s answer: Desmond Bane
This is just the latest in what has been a series of rough “NBA on TNT” moments for the Hall of Famer this season.
Rockets big man Christian Wood called O’Neal “a casual” during a postgame interview because Shaq admitted that he didn’t know much about him. Nuggets star Nikola Jokic had to explain to O’Neal that he was Serbian, not Russian. Most recently, Shaq said he “never knew” Pascal Siakam’s first name, which likely served as the inspiration for “Shaq’s First Name Game.” The Raptors forward is an NBA champion and Most Improved Player award winner, and he was named an All-Star starter last year.
But in Shaq’s defense, it’s not as though it’s his job to know … oh, wait. That is a pretty important part of the job.