As part of Turner Broadcasting's attempt to bring e-sports to a wider television audience, the parent company staged a short crossover segment on Thursday night between TNT's "Inside the NBA" and their "broadcasting counterparts" (Ernie Johnson's respectful words) for Turner's newly formed ELEAGUE.
And to be blunt, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith were having none of it. But Shaquille O'Neal actually muttered "it's sports," when Johnson asked about the crew's opinion on e-sports. On the other side, Smith openly questioned whether e-sports could be considered a "real sport" before the segment shifted to some short ELEAGUE coverage, led by James Bardolph, Richard Lewis and Duncan “Thorin” Shields.
After their brief recap of the day's top ELEAGUE matches, Thorin couldn't help but slide in a little dig at Shaq -- who had just given e-sports his verbal validation -- while talking about "Shazam," one of the event's gamers.
“The problem was that Shazam -- he showed up -- and I’m not talking about 'Kazaam,' that horrible movie Shaq made in the ’90s … ”
WHO. DARE. TO WAKE ME?
That's when Johnson took his cue to sit back and let Shaq, Smith and Barkley go at it with the ELEAGUE broadcasting desk.
The verbal volleys were vicious. Shaq responded to Thorin by saying, "I’ll tell you what, since you guys think it’s a sport, we’ll challenge you guys in a couple weeks. Any game you want. You come to TNT and I’ll make you eat those words, buddy.”
But Thorin wasn't done having a go at the Big Diesel: "What about weight loss? Shall we do that? That’s our sport.”
Thorin has awoken the beast. Or actually, kinda just provoked a devolving and dumb "jocks vs. nerds" back-and-forth.
"What about muscles? What about boxing when I go over there and punch you? This is America. The queen can’t help you here," Shaq said, wrapping himself in the defensive shield of his anchor arms and our American flag.
But before Thorin could keep the debate going, Barkley shared an interesting thought about Bardolph, ELEAGUE's black broadcaster.
"Anytime I meet a brother with an English accent, it’s interesting,” Barkley said before being shut down by the rest of the crew for his “invalid point.”
“It’s like going to the South and saying a brother's speaking Southern!” Smith interjected.
Despite his nonsense, Barkley’s explanation couldn’t have been more accurate: “I’m full of points, Ernie.”
More of this please, Turner Broadcasting. Next time, however, let's get Thorin and Shaq to play a 1v1 match of "Shaq Fu."
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