Notes from Today’s Inside the NBA All-Star 2016 Media Conference Call

Editor’s note: For a full video replay of today’s media conference call & webcast –; For additional information on TNT’s NBA All-Star coverage –

TNT will exclusively present live coverage of NBA All-Star 2016 marquee events from Toronto, Feb. 11-14, including more than 26 hours of All-Star programming.  The network will be home to the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 12, at 9 p.m. ET, State Farm All-Star Saturday Night on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 8 p.m. and the 65th annual NBA All-Star Game presented by Kia on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 8:30 p.m. (with pre-game coverage beginning at 7 p.m.).  The NBA All-Star Game will also be simulcast on TNT and TBS beginning at 8 p.m.

TNT’s Sports Emmy Award-winning Inside the NBA team of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will provide commentary and analysis throughout the weekend, beginning Thursday, Feb. 11, live from Real Sports in Toronto at 7 p.m.

Earlier today, the Inside the NBA studio team shared their insights on NBA All-Star 2016 and other NBA storylines:

Barkley on NBA All-Star 2016 in Toronto: “Canadian basketball is on a roll right now.  If you look at the NBA Draft the last couple of years, Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett [are all from there].  They’ve had two of the last five No. 1 picks from Canada… I think it’s one of the best cities in the world; they have some of the best fans… It’s going to be great to shine a light on that city.”

Smith on what it means to a city to host an All-Star Game: “When you have the All-Star Game, you have a celebration of all the best players, the best talent, the best executives, everyone’s there.  They get to be in a city for more than 24 hours and get to see the excitement [surrounding the host city].”

O’Neal on Kobe Bryant’s final All-Star Game: “If his legs are good, he’s feeling good and his stroke is going, knowing Kobe, he will go for the MVP… It’s all about certain storylines, and the first part of the storyline is the Kobe tour. If he can get MVP that would be the second part of the storyline. The last part of the storyline is we would like to get a championship or make the playoffs, but that’s definitely not going to happen.”

Smith on Bryant: “This is a great showcase of Kobe’s career. It’s a celebration of his career, what he has done in the NBA. I also think at some point the NBA should bring in Kevin Garnett, doing the same thing. It’s a celebration of two guys over the last 20 years, two decades, [who have] probably been at the peak of not only their basketball abilities, but their teams and exemplify the NBA and what it has been all about. I would love to see them bring in Kevin Garnett as well and make it a celebration for those two guys.”

Barkley on the Cavs’ coaching change and their offensive philosophy: “What they did to David Blatt was wrong. He didn’t deserve to get fired. The Cavaliers need to play at a faster place. The players have got to push the ball. They need to put Kevin Love at the box, instead of standing [at the three-point line]. I said that LeBron deserves blame for that. David Blatt deserves blame, and Kyrie. They should have said Kevin get on the box, we’re giving the ball to you. That kid is a hell of a player on the box. He is not strictly a three-point shooter.”

Barkley on the Oklahoma City Thunder matching up in the Western Conference: “There’s no team in the NBA that’s got more talent than Oklahoma City. No team. They’re two deep at every position… I picked them to win the championship. My only concern is, when the game is on the line, Kevin [Durant] and Russell [Westbrook] go one-on-one so much and take tough shots. They don’t take advantage of Steven Adams. They don’t take advantage of [Serge] Ibaka. They don’t take advantage of [Enes] Kanter. They don’t take advantage of [Andre] Roberson. They are loaded… If they play up to their capabilities, I don’t see a team in the NBA that could beat them.”

Smith on Westbrook's improvement: “The improvement that Russell Westbrook has made is glaringly different this year. Because of his ability to rebound and pass the basketball, and get Kanter, get Adams involved this year, I would say he’s very improved in that area [of getting teammates involved offensively].”

Barkley on the New York Knicks and Kristaps Porzingis: “I think the Knicks, they’re going to be there [in the mix for a playoff spot]. Listen, Carmelo [Anthony] has had a solid year. I think he’s really been trying to fit into the system they’re running. Porzingis has shocked everybody. He shocked everybody. Right now, he’s right there with Karl-Anthony Towns.  They’re the two leaders in the clubhouse in terms of Rookie of the Year; it could go either way. The one thing that surprised me was their point guard [play]… If they get Jeff Teague, the playoffs are a lock, because I love Jeff Teague… That’s the one weak spot they have to fix in the next year.”

O’Neal on the New Orleans Pelicans and if they need to rebuild around Anthony Davis: “It’s not his fault. They do need to add better pieces around him. If they are going to make a trade that would elevate [talent around him], I think they should do it. If it’s one of those trades for future draft picks, and now you want to start to rebuild, it’s going to be bad for the city, it’s going to be bad for Alvin Gentry and bad for Anthony Davis. I definitely think they need to make some moves right now.”

Additional video clips from today’s call:

The Inside the NBA team on what they would like to see for future All-Star Games:

Barkley on Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki:

Barkley on Boston’s Isaiah Thomas:

Barkley on the Houston Rockets: