Q&A: Ernie Johnson

Courtesy of Justin Terranova

Q: What motivated you to write this book?
A: I saw the reaction to the ESPN piece they did on my family a couple of years ago, and I still have people tell me when they see it for the first time, or they watched it more than once, how it spoke to them on so many different levels: whether that’s having special-needs children, adopting, kids with cancer, just on a number of different levels. There was some interest from some literary agents and just went from there.

Q: What is it like off the set among you, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith?
A: I grew up with two older sisters, never had brothers, and this is as close as I’ll get. And we really truly do love each other. If something happened to any one of us, we’d drop what we are doing to help the other guy. And I think there’s a mutual respect there and an acknowledgment that we are getting to do something for a living that’s pretty fun. We all come at the game from a different perspective and that makes the give and take unique.

Q: Is this the craziest part of your year, when the NBA playoffs start?
A: Because the storyline changes so often in the playoffs, I think that’s what keeps it fresh. It’s more of a challenge sometimes during the middle of the NBA season, even though you are not on every night. Do I really care about this game at this point? Even if they lose this game is it going to impact the standings?

Q: How do you feel about your co-hosts getting into feuds with NBA players?
A: I am not crazy about it in some cases. Look, the Barkley-LeBron [James] thing was legit. I don’t have a problem with that becoming the story. Here’s a Hall of Famer who doesn’t like the tack another Hall of Famer is taking to get his team better. He’s entitled to his opinion, that’s why he’s on the show. And LeBron is within his rights to fire back and he got a little personal.

Q: But not the Shaq-JaVale McGree disagreement?
A: That thing got a little out of hand. OK, got a lot out of hand. Both of those guys are above that. They are grown men, who picked a specific night to act like freshmen in high school and hopefully they have moved past that.

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