*Retired NBA star Shaquille O’Neal had his choice of networks clamoring to nab him as a commentator, but TNT’s “Inside the NBA” studio show had been O’Neal’s favorite as a player, so today’s announcement was a foregone conclusion.
According to the AP, O’Neal agreed Thursday to a multiyear deal with Turner Sports to become an analyst on its NBA coverage, where he will take the fourth chair on the TNT set alongside Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson.
“I’m just going to try to make it more fun than it already is,” O’Neal said during a conference call.
O’Neal will also contribute to NBA TV and NBA.com, and his agreement includes a development deal with Turner’s entertainment and animation networks.
O’Neal said he had offers from ABC/ESPN and others upon retiring last month, but quickly chose the Turner offer, saying he wasn’t interested in creating a bidding war for his services.
“The addition of ‘The Big Analytical’ will be terrific,” Smith said in a statement. “I can’t wait to make verbal passes to the most dominant center of our time.”
O’Neal will be part of TNT’s coverage of All-Star weekend — scheduled next season for Orlando, his first NBA home — and the playoffs. He doesn’t think it will be difficult having to criticize Kobe Bryant, whom he feuded with as Lakers teammates, or any other players.
“I have the ability and the backing to give fair criticism. The only time I have trouble with people giving criticism is when they haven’t walked that walk,” O’Neal said. “I’ve walked many walks in my 19-year career, so I think any criticism that I give should be fair.”