Kenny Smith walked out of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” set Wednesday night as a show of solidarity with NBA players who are not playing as a form of protest over the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Smith, one of the analysts on “Inside the NBA” with Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, said he had a hard time finding the right words to summarize how he and the players are feeling after Sunday’s shooting.
Blake, a black man, was shot at least seven times, apparently in the back, by police on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as he attempted to enter the driver’s door of his vehicle with three of his children inside. The video of the shooting was distributed on social media.
“This is difficult. I mean right now my head is ready to explode,” Smith said. “Like just in thoughts of what’s going on. I don’t even know if I’m appropriate enough to say it, what the players feel and how they feel. I haven’t talked to any of the players. Coming and even driving here, walking into the studio, hearing calls and people talking …
“And for me, I think the most important thing now as a black man, as a former player, I think it’s better for me to support the players and just not be here tonight.”
Smith then unplugged the microphone and walked away from the set. Host Ernie Johnson told Smith that he respected his decision to leave.
All of Wednesday’s games have been postponed after the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision not to speak for Game 5 of their playoff series against the Orlando Magic in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Each NBA player was invited to attend an 8pm ET meeting in the NBA bubble to discuss how they will proceed from Wednesday’s decisions, ESPN sources Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe said.
When Smith left the set, he said he will “find out what happens” later.