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“Inside The NBA” returns with special edition

The "Inside The NBA" commenter crew of (l-r) Shaquille O'Neal, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley (Photo by Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)

WarnerMedia’s TNT is planning a special one-hour live edition of its acclaimed National Basketball Association studio show Inside the NBA on June 4 at 8 p.m. ET that will discuss both the league’s emerging return-to-play plans amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing nationwide protests regarding racial injustice in the US. 

The show’s lineup of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal, the latter three all former NBA stars, will be joined by a series of special guests during the special to address both major topics. The show’s return after a nearly three-month hiatus will be particularly timely as it will be the same day as a league Board of Governors meeting where a 22-team return-to-play plan is expected to be presented for a formal vote.

The league’s plan is centered on an intended July 31 restart at the Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida. 

The social justice conversation, meanwhile, will center on a series of large-scale protests now happening across the US sparked by the death last week of Minnesota resident George Floyd while in police custody, a tragic event that has sparked widespread commentary across the sports industry. 

The Inside The NBA conversation is expected to be a high-profile one as not only is the show one of the leading studio programs in all of US sports, but the four personalities already have a long history of being outspoken on a variety of social issues. There has not been an episode of Inside the NBA since March 12, a day after the league suspended its season due to the pandemic.