Kenny Smith, a panelist on the TNT analysis show Inside the NBA, walked off the live show after a brief commentary in solidarity with the players and others who are boycotting the league’s playoff games today.
Smith said as a Black man and former player, he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to participate in the discussion.
“This is tough. I mean right now my head is ready to explode,” Smith said. “Like just in the thoughts of what’s going on. I don’t even know if I am even appropriate enough to say it, what the players are feeling and how they are feeling. I haven’t talked to any of the players. Coming in and even driving here, getting into the studio, hearing calls and people talking …
“And for me, I think the biggest thing now as a Black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight.”
He then disconnected his microphone and walked off the set.
Charles Barkley, another of the panelists and himself a former player, said that “I don’t think we can be shocked” about the players declining to play. “When some of the guys started talking about it the day before, that started the fire.”
Barkley said that it was “appropriate that the Milwaukee Bucks did it. You had to cancel the games tonight after the Bucks did not play.” He added: “You have to cancel tomorrow, too. My question – what is the game plan after that?”
Former Laker Shaquille O’Neal called for political change. “You have to root out the evil, work out the problems. Again, make sure you get a new mayor, sheriff, governor, president. You need to put people in place that understand our language, understand our frustrations.”