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Saturday, May 18, 2024

TNT’s Kenny Smith Says ‘Stability Is What Brings Success’ Amid Layoffs

  • “Certain guys are getting let go, and then you hire someone else for more money,” Kenny Smith says of ESPN’s layoffs.
  • Smith tells FOS that Inside The NBA is the best show on TV, is “what Monday Night Football was when I was growing up with Howard Cosell.”
TNT's Kenny Smith spoke to FOS about ESPN's layoffs and Inside The NBA's success.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

TNT NBA analyst Kenny Smith is perplexed by the decision-making of ESPN as it let go of top NBA commentators Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson amid broader layoffs at the network.

“I’m not really sure how they’re [ESPN] doing it. I’m not really versed on why they’re doing all their cuts and how, is it budgetary? Because certain guys are getting let go, and then you hire someone else for more money. I have no idea why they’re doing it, but stability is what brings success,” Smith told Front Office Sports.  

‘The Jet’ spoke to FOS at a youth basketball camp in The Hamptons organized by The Program, a startup looking to revitalize New York City’s youth basketball development with a facility opening next year. “The elite players [from NYC] don’t finish here. They might start here then all these prep schools grab them up. That happens a lot now in youth basketball,” said Smith, a Queens native who starred at Archbishop Molloy High School in the 1980s. 

TNT’s “Inside the NBA” pregame show has had the same cast for over a decade—Smith, Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O’Neal.

“That’s family, we’re not even a show anymore,” Smith told FOS. “It is what Monday Night Football was when I was growing up with Howard Cosell and those guys—we’ve become that for basketball. “It’s just an unbelievable accomplishment and a great energy that every time you walk into the studio, you’re happy to be there.”

While Inside The NBA hasn’t been impacted by on-air cuts, TNT’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery has made job cuts across business departments of its cable networks, including laying off TNT’s longtime NBA communications executive Brian Reinert

“People can count on certain things, I think that’s what makes us the best show on television. We have stability, we’re entertaining,” Smith said of Inside The NBA. “But more importantly, we have stability. We have guys that you really can count on that know the game.”

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