Ernie Johnson Once Threatened Throwing ‘Hot Coffee’ at 252 lbs Charles Barkley Over Prank Gone Wrong

Arjun Julka
|Published 12/11/2022

A path-breaking show in the American sports broadcasting industry, Inside the NBA, enjoys a global fan following, starring host Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O’Neal, whose casual yet candid nature makes million of us tune into TNT.

The Emmy-award-winning show first aired during the 1989-90 season, with Johnson being the first to join the ship and the only non-NBA player on the panel. Having held the position for over 3-decades, the veteran is one of the most revered personalities in the business.

Being tasked with handling individuals like Shaq and The Chuckster is no walk in the park, given the two Hall of Famers’ strong sense of opinion and short-tempered nature. Nonetheless, E.J. fulfills the role with utmost grace, keeping everyone in check while not letting the humor quotient fall too.

Also read: “Ernie Johnson has a whole lot more than just street cred”: Shaq and Charles Barkley gush over EJ’s extensive knowledge on hip-hop

Anyone familiar with the show is aware of the banter surrounding the panel, with Johnson playing referee, to keep things tight. However, one such time co-panelist Barkley went too far, leaving the otherwise calm and composed E.J. infuriated.

Ernie Johnson narrates cutting Charles Barkley out during a segment of the show.

There is no denying that Chuck is one of the most entertaining personalities on television, a cheat code to boost ratings. Thus Johnson’s decision to sideline him once comes as a surprise. In this case, the former 252lbs Suns MVP had crossed the line, leaving the veteran host with no choice.

In a 2017 interview with Jessie Karangu of USA TODAY Sports, Johnson shed light on his book Unscripted: The Unpredictable Moments That Make Life Extraordinary. During the interview, the veteran host revealed a tense yet hilarious episode with Barkley.

“We’re in the playoffs and we had taken the show on the road and what I have instead of carrying a big old format of the show in front of me with the computer printout, I just kind of jot down a roadmap for the show on these 5 by 7 cards and break into first segment, second segment, third segment and then if we have to make changes – Tim Kiely who’s the producer can say hey we’re going to switch that highlight from segment two to segment three and we have some sound of Gregg Popovich on segment four so I’m jotting this stuff down so I know when we get to it what the traffic is.

In between the third and the fourth segment, Kenny’s just like Charles I dare you to rip those cards in half. This is in a commercial break. Charles is like ‘you really think I should?’ and I said ‘Charles, this is my preparation for the show this is important to me this is my roadmap for where we’re going next. I need this stuff.’ He reaches over and rips it in half. Then we’re like 30 seconds from coming back on the air and he knew I was ticked off. I told him I said, ‘man if you do that again this hot coffee is going all over you.’ Kenny’s like ‘Man, I ain’t ever seen Ernie this hot Charles.’

We come back on the show and I just iced him out. I didn’t talk to Charles that segment. I wasn’t going to ask him a question, I was going to Kenny and Shaq with everything. Charles finally was like ‘hey, hey, hey’ I said ‘look I ain’t talking to you we had something going on here and if you want to take part in the show you won’t do that anymore.'”

Well, Barkley learned the hard way as Smith perfected his role of an instigator on the show.

Ernie Johnson: One of the most respected names in American sports journalism.

Six-time Emmy-award winner and 2021 National Sportscaster of the Year, Johnson is the son of MLB pitcher Ernie Johnson Sr. E.J. graduated from the University of Georgia with a major in journalism.

Having been in the sports broadcasting business for over 40 years, Johnson is one of the most respected names in the business, known for his articulate ways of working and professionalism, the veteran host has his strong suits in MLB and NBA.

Also read: “Charles Barkley changed the landscape of shows like Inside the NBA, he made it possible for us to go outside the lines a bit”: Ernie Johnson shares his experiences of working with the Hall of Famer


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About the author
Arjun Julka

Arjun Julka

Arjun Julka is a NBA author at The SportsRush. Basketball isn’t just a sport for this 26-year-old, who hails from Mumbai. He began watching the sport after stumbling upon a court in his society, helping him identify an undiscovered passion for the game of hoops. Now an ardent fan, Arjun supports Stephen Curry and the Warriors but also enjoys watching Giannis Antetokounmpo own the paint. When it comes to the GOAT debate, the TSR author feels LeBron James is yet to receive a lot of his due but cannot deny marveling at Michael Jordan’s resume.

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