U.S. Open

Pinehurst Resort & Country Club (Course No. 2)

Hell Hath No Fury

For the love of God, DO NOT rip up Ernie Johnson’s notes

This weekend is a big one in the wide world of basketball. Not because the first March Madness in two years is approaching. Not because of the All-Star Game, Three-Point Shootout, and or this thing I guess we’re still calling the “NBA Dunk Contest.” No, this weekend is a big weekend for basketball because it sees the release of ‘The Inside Story,’ the single most important basketball documentary since, well, y’all remember ‘The Last Dance’ right? The four-part look behind the scenes of ‘Inside the NBA’ (which already feels pretty “behind the scenes” anyway), began on Thursday night, and already the clickable revelations are rolling in, starting with Ernie, Kenny, Chuck, and Shaq reminiscing on the time that a young, naive Charles Barkley nearly did the impossible:

Break Ernie Johnson.

Every man his limits—the buttons you simply don’t push—and for Ernie Johnson, as you probably could have guessed, that button is his show notes. Early on in his tenure at Inside the NBA, Chuck got wind of that and, in typical Chuck fashion, wanted to see how far he could push before getting pushed back. All it took was a simple “That sh*t wasn’t funny” from Johnson, a man who notoriously never curses, to let the Chuckster know that beneath the glasses, vests, and mild-mannered demeanor, there was a kung-fu assassin waiting to be unleashed.

Needless to say, if these are the sort of stories we got during Episode 1, we can’t wait to see what the team has cooked up for us over the next three nights (especially Saturday, when Barkley’s role as “the entertainer” takes centerstage.) If this sounds like it’s in your, um, court, “The Inside Story” continues Friday and Saturday night at 9 p.m. on TNT, before concluding on Sunday after the broadcast of the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.