‘The Glove’ Has Come Off
The end of the best basketball show on television.
When I first got the news that Gary Payton would no longer be appearing on NBA TV’s very popular, regular season show on Tuesday, Fan Night, I was highly upset. Especially considering that earlier in the day I’d just watched and then deleted some saved episodes of the show from last season in order to make room for new ones. But as I delved into the story a little more, I found that GP wasn’t the only one being replaced, but Ahmad Rashad, too, which made me feel even worse. I hadn’t felt that bad since Jerry Krause broke up the Bulls.
In my opinion, Ahmad Rashad, Chris Webber and Gary Payton were the most entertaining guys on TV and made Fan Night one of my favorite shows to watch. In fact, I thought those three guys were a better cast than TNT’s Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley in terms of pure comedy. Yeah, I like good basketball analysis, but I also like to watch real people talk about real things in a real way. So starting next week there will be no more Ahmad and GP on Fan Night. As Chuck would say, “That’s turrible!”
But what makes the news even “worser,” was who the network decided to replace Ahmad and Gary with; Ernie Johnson and Kevin McHale? So now the Tuesday night on-air talent will be EJ, CWebb and Kevin McHale. Could there be an odder trio on television?
Don’t get me wrong, I like Ernie Johnson and meaning no disrespect to the big up-and-under, but the show seems a lot less interesting now with those two added to the mix. Granted, I’m speaking rather prematurely seeing as they’ve yet to air a show and who knows, McHale and EJ could be great additions. But in place of Ahmad Rashad and Gary Payton sitting alongside Chris Webber, I seriously doubt that. There’s no way that the chemistry they shared can be duplicated.
After reading some of the comments from ‘McHale Replaces Gary Payton on NBA TV,’ it was kind of a mixed bag between ‘good riddance,’ and ‘that sucks.’ But for those who said that they didn’t like the show with GP on it, I don’t think they understood what the real appeal of Fan Night actually was for the people who enjoyed it.
Watching Ahmad, Gary, and Chris talk basketball on TV was like sitting in a barbershop in the hood and listening to regular guys talk basketball. Sometimes good points are made and sometimes someone says something that’s totally ridiculous and makes almost no sense at all. But no matter what, the conversations were almost always funny, and you always walked away entertained and couldn’t wait to come back next week for more. That’s what it was like watching those guys and that show embodied all three of those characteristics.
I especially enjoyed the arguments that Gary and Chris would have that at times would become pretty heated leaving one or both of those guys pissed off which left Ahmad to play peace maker and as the level-headed, neutral party, diffuser of the situation. But at the end of the day, you knew that it was all in fun and you could tell that those guys respected one another’s opinion—agree or disagree. More importantly than that though, you could see the passion that they shared for this game of ours and that’s what made the show great. Gary Payton’s removal from NBA TV was such a big deal in the basketball community that it prompted the Twitter trending topic, #bringGPback.
From what I’ve heard, GP has a desire to get back into the League as a coach which is why he won’t be appearing on NBA TV this season. Certainly there’s some honor in that seeing as nobody was crazy enough to believe he had a career in television anyway, but it really is sad that we won’t get to “hang out” with him on NBA TV anymore. Oh well, thank God for YouTube. I can’t believe that it’s over, though. It feels, as Jay-Z would say, like “It Was All a Dream.”
Had a dream, I said. Bout who? He said. GP, I said. Oooh weee, he said. Dig what he said. Proceed, he said. Indeed, I said. So, breathe I did. Don’t repeat what I say, I said. He said nothing. He agreed with his head. He just nodded like this. What I believed to be a yes, I repeated what was said. Gary came to me like “Pssst,” last evening, I said.
“What’s crack-a-lackin, homeboy?” was the greeting he said. First thing I wanted to know was the reason he was canned. Too real for TV? “Better believe it,” he said. “When you represent the hood, they won’t keep you,” he said.
I see, I said. Too “G,” I said. Made NBA TV uneasy, I said. Then GP said, “B, remind yourself. Nobody built Gary Payton, I designed myself.” I agree, I said. His one-of-a-kind self won’t change for Turner Sports, airtime or bread.
So what I said to GP has been said before. Just keep doing your thing, I said. “Say no more.”