Kenny Smith set to rejoin ‘Inside the NBA’ after walking off set
Kenny Smith will rejoin TNT’s “Inside the NBA” this weekend after walking off the set earlier this week to support players striking in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting.
Smith was spotted at LAX on Friday preparing to board a flight back to Atlanta, Ga., to resume his duties on arguably the greatest pre- and postgame show in all of sports.
Kenny Smith Returning to Work After Walking Off 'Inside the NBA' Sethttps://t.co/0F1C5fipP5— TMZ Sports (@TMZ_Sports) August 28, 2020
As the panel including Smith, Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley reacted in real time as a player boycott led to the cancellation of Wednesday’s three-game slate of playoff games, Smith spoke eloquently about the activism demonstrated by the league’s players before saying he was leaving the telecast in a show of solidarity.
.@TheJetOnTNT stands with the NBA players. pic.twitter.com/39Sby1D5kn— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 26, 2020
“As a black man, as a former player … I think its best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight,” Smith said in part.
Smith was asked Friday by the TMZ Sports crew if his walk-off was a spur-of-the-moment decision.
“I don’t know if it was spur of the moment,” Smith said. “But, I think it didn’t feel right to be there.”
“I think it was a good time for me to join the march. I didn’t want to just sit there and be a talking head. And, I thought it was important to make a statement that I wanted to participate in it instead of just talking about it.”
The outrage that erupted this week in the NBA bubble was spawned by how Blake, an unarmed Black man, was shot seven times in the back by officers in front of his children in Kenosa, Wisc., last Sunday.
The players’ decision to strike of course became an incredibly divisive issue. Most Americans, however, are supportive of the players’ activism, according to a new poll.
While postseason games scheduled for Thursday and Friday ultimately were postponed as well, NBA players ultimately agreed Thursday to restart the postseason.
Smith was asked if he thought the players made the right decision returning to the court.
“I support what the players are doing either way. I think the message is it shows a unified power,” Smith said.
“I think we are in a really interesting time of eradicating the production and consumption of racism. So, now when you allow someone to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to stop doing something that is not only enjoyable but is financially rewarding to a lot of people’ shows the power of what the NBA can do and sports in general.”
The NBA and NBPA officially announced Friday that postseason play would resume Saturday. Thankfully, “Inside the NBA” will cover the action at full strength with Smith’s imminent return.