The NBA’s Inside the NBA is a show that by all accounts should be very entertaining but has instead been disjointed and boring. The feud between Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal over money shows what can happen when two icons don’t sufficiently mesh their personalities with those of a team.

If you’re a long-time basketball fan, you’ve probably seen Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal on Inside the NBA in their respective positions. While the two legends may (and do) impart some wisdom and analysis, they’re also there to give some light relief. They’ve been known to fight, insult each other, and their moms have even had to intercede at times.

While this may be part of what makes TNT’s coverage stand out, the studio program that airs on one of the Association’s key broadcasters has to do better. Take, for example, the “petty” brawl between Shaq and Chuck on Wednesday night. It got a lot of social media traffic, but it did so by using personal arguments rather than serious analysis.

Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal got into a fight about Jimmy Butler’s scoring abilities.

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Jimmy Butler came through in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to help the Miami Heat to victory. However, the forward accomplished more than that. On the TNT set, he also sparked a heated dispute.

Ernie Johnson of Inside the NBA asks what Boston can learn from the opening conversation in Boston on Wednesday’s episode. Because they had to play without Al Horford and Marcus Smart, Kenny Smith said the solution was virtually nothing. Butler would probably not score 40 points if Smart was in the lineup, according to Charles Barkley.

Despite the fact that this is a totally reasonable assumption — Smart is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and Barkley just said that Butler “probably won’t reach 40,” Shaquille O’Neal took issue with it.

“First and foremost, Jimmy can get 40 if he sets his mind to it,” Shaq said over Sir Charles. “Jimmy Butler can 40 with or without Marcus Smart. No, it isn’t [more difficult with Smart present]. He’s at the stage now where, as D-Wade puts it, “ain’t nobody stopping him.”

Kenny Smith re-entered the fight at that time, questioning whether O’Neal really believed it would be easy to score against the Defensive Player of the Year. That’s a completely reasonable remark, but it merely drove the Diesel farther down the rabbit hole.

“You said last week, ‘Don’t be talking about how wonderful of a player you are if someone can shut you out,’” he said. “Marcus Smart is not going to keep Jimmy Butler out. Jimmy Butler will score 40 points if he wants to. Period. He has the option of getting 40. He’s become that sort of player.”

Then Barkley seemed to have gotten his fill. He stepped in to inform Shaq that he wasn’t arguing about Butler’s brilliance. Chuck was only attempting to convey that “scoring on the Defensive Player of the Year is more difficult.”

Shaq, on the other hand, was not about to back down.

He said, “No, it’s not.” “Take a look at my Finals matchup with Dikembe Mutombo. That’s not the case. It is not. Jimmy Butler is a fantastic basketball player. He has the option of getting 40 if he so desires. I’m not interested in hearing about Defensive Player of the Year. Pay attention to what I did to Dikembe Mutombo. Right immediately, call him and ask him.”

“Listen, Petty White,” Barkley lashed back once again. We’re not referring to you. We’re discussing Jimmy Butler.” Before Ernie Johnson interfered, he too accused O’Neal of riding his teammate’s coattails to championships.

That debate may have been entertaining, but it exposed the TNT crew’s fundamental flaws.

Charles Barkley (L) and Shaquille O'Neal (R)

Charles Barkley (L) and Shaquille O'Neal (R) | Mitchell Leff/Getty Images, ana Cruder / Disney General Entertainment Content through Getty Images, NBA commentators Charles Barkley (L) and Shaquille O’Neal (R).

One might argue that the bickering between Charles and Shaq is part of what makes Inside the NBA so unique. On ESPN or ABC, you won’t get that degree of honesty; even Stephen A. Smith, who is notorious for his rants, keeps things under control most of the time. While this may be true for certain fans, I believe “fun” cannot be used to describe everything.

To get down to business, Inside the NBA is a component of one of the league’s official broadcast partners’ basketball coverage. You may argue that the studio staff, including Barkley and O’Neal, have a duty to help the game evolve in this light. This may be accomplished in a number of ways, from informative to entertaining, but they should all leave viewers feeling upbeat and eager to watch more basketball.

A battle accomplishes none of these goals. By having one of the team’s most prominent members take a legitimate issue personally, it undermines the team’s credibility. You might argue that part of Shaq’s attraction is that he’s a genuine person rather than a stiff-upper-lipped commentator, but he does have a problematic tendency of relying too much on his personal experiences at the cost of delivering meaningful insight.

To his credit, O’Neal was one of the most unusual talents to ever grace the NBA court. Jimmy Butler’s ability to muscle Dikembe Mutombo out of the way isn’t exactly indicative of his character.

If the huge guy had backed up his personal experiences with any insights, the situation would have been entirely different. Perhaps “this is what Butler has done successfully in the playoffs.” Perhaps we could have seen some highlights of Smart’s defense and heard how the Heat star responds. Instead, we got a debate, which would have added some value to the discourse and taught viewers something.

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Segments like “Shaq’s First Name Game” and “Who He Play For” seek to showcase O’Neal and Barkley’s lack of NBA knowledge. They may seem to be enjoyable on the surface, but it’s unclear how that fits into the greater picture. Shouldn’t these folks be able to recognize the names of the Association’s players? Are we admitting that they’re only on the panel because of their personalities?

While creating the ideal studio program is difficult — some people want to be amused, while others want to be educated — Wednesday night’s debate illustrated where TNT falls short. A seemingly harmless comment devolved into a two-minute dispute rife with personal attacks, unfounded statements, and verbal jabs. Nobody took anything away from the section other than the fact that Shaq outplayed Mutombo more than 20 years ago, and to be honest, it wasn’t even that enjoyable. It seemed more like two guys bickering in a sports bar than a must-see television show.

Despite this, there is no pressure for Inside the NBA to change; the viewing figures, for better or worse, don’t lie. However, success does not imply that you cannot improve.

Someone should remind Shaq and Charles that by studying hard and delivering outstanding analysis, they can truly disgrace each other.

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RELATED: Charles Barkley’s ‘Best Compliment’ Still Placed Him Behind Michael Jordan

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