While Shaquille O’Neal and Barkley were on set Thursday night as co-hosts of the NBA on TNT, Barkley complained about his hamstrings. They were too tight. Sitting in a chair in a studio for hours can only make said hamstring crankier.
So during a commercial following an appearance by Chris Paul, Barkley got up and stretched. It’s what athletes do. They’ve done it their entire lives. They do it long after their competitive careers are over. So Shaq decided to help. As Barkley bent over, Shaq massaged Sir Charles’ thigh. Oh, the optics. The three men on set — Shaq, Barkley and Ernie Johnson — immediately evolved into teen-age boys and laughed their way through a retelling of the story.
Ernie Johnson Narrated Retelling as Shaq, Barkley Kept Laughing
When the break was over and the cameras turned back on, Ernie Johnson narrated what happened between Shaq and Barkley during the commercial. Show producers replayed the clip.
“Question, how long will it take for a video to go viral,” Johnson asked.
He quickly answered his own question. “Probably by the time I got that sentence out of my mouth.”
The Twitter account for NBA on TNT posted a video clip, writing that “Dr. O’Neal came to the rescue after Chuck cramped up.”
Shaq said “just trying to help my teammate.” As Johnson quipped “You saw your teammate in agony with the hammie. … Dr. O’Neal, paging Dr, O’Neal. … Anybody got a pack of smokes?”
Shaq also mocked himself. “Only thing I’m missing is that blue glove, huh. Chuck, this is going to hurt me worse than it’s going to hurt you.”
Barkley also jumped in the conversation “Take me to dinner before you go under there,” he quipped. “I need a cigarette!”
The NBA on TNT is a sports mainstay. Ernie Johnson, the moderator, has worked with the show since 1989. Charles Barkley joined the show in 2000. Shaq got there in 2011. Kenny Smith also is usually on hand, but he wasn’t there for the Shaq massage.
Barkley is 58 and Shaq is 49. They were both NBA superstars who got to compete against each other. Their careers overlapped for nine seasons. And they have great chemistry on set. Barkley has no filter. Neither does O’Neal. They’re not worried about social media reaction about their antics. That was evident Thursday night.
And yes, the Shaq massage moment went viral. Twelve hours later, the video clip was watched more than 451,000 times.