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SportDime - by Book It

Open Court on NBA TV

December 14th 2011 19:19
In a day and age where a lot of television shows fail to capture my attention, it's no surprise a basketball-themed roundtable show caught mine. The show, called "Open Court," airs on NBA TV and is hosted by none other than TNT's Ernie Johnson. Most of the payroll ex-players are on this roundtable.

That includes the likes of Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Steve Kerr, Chris Webber, and new addition Shaquille O'Neal. But it also throws in Steve Smith, who has a wonderful personality and just as many tales to tell. This show debuted during the lockout, but I think plans must have already been made to run this show whether a season was going to happen or not.


There have been four or five episodes now and I have found myself captivated by the stories told by each player. I've also laughed pretty hard at times too because you can see all seven men all having a genuinely good time reflecting on their times as pro players and talking about their love of the sport.

For a basketball fan, this is like the sports version of The View on ABC in the mornings. First of all the TNT crew already had great personality, and now when you throw in the actor that is Shaquille O'Neal it should be even funnier and more entertaining. O'Neal has never been one to shy away from the spotlight or not speak his mind. So he combined with Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith should do a fine job on TNT Thursday's broadcasts of games.

On this roundtable though, it is funny to see Steve Kerr, the only white guy, who played for six different teams, amongst a group of All-Stars basically hold his own. He has great tales of his battles with John Stockton and playing with Michael Jordan as a member of the Bulls. At the same time he is self deprecating and more than holds his own amongst all the stars on the panel who accept him because he was a fine role player in the NBA.


Last night, they talked a lot about pressurized situations and moments, but guys like Chris Webber (who weren't very much into taking the last shot) sorta shied away from the topic because he was never known to be much of a clutch player as great as he was. Even O'Neal admitted he was not a clutch player, but on XBOX he is deadly in the final seconds, which had all the guys cracking up.

But some of the prior shows have been better with regards to topics and stories told by these guys. One episode has Ernie Johnson asking players about who they grew up idolizing, and in another he has them asking who would you take between Jordan, Bird, and Johnson.

But some of the best parts of this show are when players give you that small glimpse of what its really like to play in the NBA. For example, they reflected on their first moment when they realized they were in the NBA or who the best trash talkers were. Even funny questions like when did you know it was time to retire or what were your first pair of basketball sneakers.

The best part is none of the show is scripted so it is all freelanced and all guys do a great job of joking around while giving great insight. Steve Smith, for some reason perhaps it is in the way he talks or the way he moves his hands when he talks, cracks me up. He told a story of having to guard Michael Jordan to the panel. As Jordan started to score on him he noticed Michael counting down from 40, and at first he didn't understand what was going on. Then as Jordan crept down into the 30s and 20s, he realized once he got to zero, he would have given up 40 points to MJ. The whole panel started dying of laughter and I found myself cracking up too.

If you have a chance to watch this show on Tuesday nights and you love basketball, check it out. I do not know how many episodes there will be, but I know NBA TV re-runs the prior ones during the week and weekend. The latest episodes air each Tuesday. If you happen to have NBA TV and love basketball you need to see some of these roundtables, they are great. NBA.com may also have them if NBA TV is not on your viewing package.
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December 16th 2011 14:09
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