Charles Barkley might be the most recognizable face on TNT’s Inside The NBA, but Kenny Smith is the heart and soul of the show. Since ’98, the Jet’s worked as an amazing foil to Barkley, butting heads with him time and time again on Thursday nights and beyond. Smith is the most rational, energetic character on the show, and he’s an underrated reason why Inside The NBA is so good. The former Dunk Contest participant turns 50 today, and to celebrate, let’s take a look back at his Top 10 best moments on Inside.
1. Getting his jersey retired on the TNT stage.
This is the best moment in the history of the show—and it’s not even close. Back in the day, when Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson were both on the show, Kenny was the only one who did not have his jersey hanging from the rafters. When TNT commentator Reggie Miller had his jersey retired by Indiana, Ernie Johnson took it upon himself to hang up a Tracy McGrady Jersey with “Smith” written on the back, so Kenny could finally feel what it was like to have his number retired. Kenny knew what was coming, and hanging the jersey up next to a pink bra was really a classy move by the TNT team.
2. Mocking Chris Webber’s infamous timeout.
Kenny takes a lot of abuse, but this was proof that he can dish it out, too. Chris Webber was playing with fire when he mocked Kenny’s run to the big board, and Kenny got the last laugh.
3. Getting Charles to admit he gets his eyebrows done.
When Charles did color commentary things got absurd in the TNT studio. Chris Webber goes crazy with the chapstick and Kenny spends five minutes dissecting every error and ridiculous comment Chuck made during the broadcast.
4. Getting into the Christmas spirit with Shaq.
Kenny retied at around 170 pounds and Shaq weighs roughly 320, so there might have been some flopping here. Nevertheless, you don’t mess around with Kenny’s run to the big board.
5. Getting punked on his way to the board.
A moment so random that you just have to tip your cap to the TNT team. You can hear producers and people in the studio howling with laughter, but Kenny plays through it like a champ.
6. Getting run over by Ernie.
After the video of Kobe Bryant jumping over the Aston Martin went viral, Kenny responded with a video of his own, but it didn’t work out well for him. This video had Kobe hysterically laughing immediately after a playoff game, and Kenny’s cries of “It was Ernie, it was Ernie!” really take this to the next level.
7. Beating Jason Terry in a shootout.
Yes, they both technically are nicknamed JET, but after Kenny beat Jason Terry in a shootout on the show, he earned the right to keep his nickname.
8. Not running through the tape.
No one will ever really know who won the 2013 TNT Race.
9. Giving Charles Barkley a champagne bath.
After winning an Emmy in 2012, Kenny gave Chuck his only champagne bath ever. The minute he said “Kenny, I swear to God,” you knew something great was going to happen.
10. Calling the 2000 Slam Dunk Contest.
This didn’t take place in the studio, but it might just be his most iconic moment. Vince Carter sealed the 2000 NBA Dunk Contest with this mind-blowing between-the-legs dunk, and Kenny reacted completely appropriately. “IT’S OVER LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!”