Kenny ‘The Jet’ Smith is a self-described basketball junkie who has been on NBA Inside the NBA for years. He’s been pretty good at it, too, which is why I’m surprised to hear that he’s about to retire.

Kenny Smith is one of my favorite players on the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, and I look forward to what he has to say about the game. But I was surprised to discover that I don’t have a picture of him in my NBA player gallery. Why? Because whenever he appears on Inside the NBA, I usually fast forward through those segments. He’s a great basketball player, sure, but I don’t care about the NBA much. So why do I care about him? Because Kenny Smith is a great guy.

Shut up and dribble is something NBA players have heard for years, but many choose not to listen, and for good reason. Basketball may be their specialty, but basketball stars have a huge platform that can contribute to real change in America, whether that’s through various social justice initiatives or simply by discussing an important issue in front of a large audience. Among the stars who aren’t afraid to stand up for a good cause is Kenny Jet Smith.

Smith may not play basketball anymore and has been a commentator on TNT’s Inside the NBA for more than two decades, but he refuses to shut up and talk about basketball. Yes, he enjoys the humorous aspects of his show, which also features Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and host Ernie Johnson, but he’s also proud to be part of the important conversations.

Kenny Jet Smith starred in TNT’s Inside the NBAfor more than two decades.

Kenny Jet Smith (left to right) and Charles Barkley during American Express All-Star Live on TNT on the 12th. February 2015. | Stephen Lavkin/Getty Images for American Express

Smith had a fairly successful basketball career, winning two NBA championships with the Houston Rockets. However, after the last game of the 1996-97 season, he became a commentator at TNT, where he was one of the leading voices in the NBA.

When a problem comes up in the league, he and his teammates help fuel it. This is probably the most successful group of personalities – in terms of on-field performance – talking about the game today, and they all give viewers incredible insight.

There’s nothing that can happen on a basketball court that the three of us haven’t seen, heard and experienced, Smith said in an exclusive interview with Sportscasting about his work with the live video communications platform Bright. There’s nothing there. I don’t know if any other series can claim that.

While basketball certainly occupies a large portion of their time, it’s not the only thing the stars of the show talk about.

Kenny Jet Smith became a powerful social justice activist

Smith, O’Neal, Barkley and Johnson provided one of the most entertaining spectacles in basketball, and they had many hilarious moments because of it.

From Christmas tree collisions to big-board racing, Smith told Sportscasting.

But they also had many important conversations.

And also social justice and social issues, which we also address in our program, Smith said. The King family, we once did a show from the King Center, and John Carlos was in our show from a social standpoint.

In 2020, Smith talked about not reinvesting streets named after Martin Luther King Jr. because many of them are in the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

It’s kind of a slap in the face for what he did, Smith said on the January 2020 episode of Inside the NBA. I think it’s an important message, but at the same time… what are we going to do and how are we going to change things?

He also expressed solidarity with the players who decided to strike during the 2020 NBA playoffs in protest of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man from Kenosha, Wisconsin, who was shot and killed by police in August 2020. By doing so, Smith ended up making his own protest by leaving the game within the NBA .

As a black man, as a former player, I think it’s better for me to support the players and not be there tonight, Smith said during a powerful episode in August 2020.

Smith may not play anymore, but he is one of a growing number of current and former players who refuse to shut up and dribble.

The NBA has implemented numerous social justice initiatives

.

Smith and his Inside the NBA team aren’t the only ones in the league who have spoken out against social injustice.

Many players have used their platform to effect change, including LeBron James, who has not only been a great advocate for black people, but also helped improve turnout in black communities in recent elections by creating his More Than a Vote initiative.

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have also formed the National Coalition for Social Justice in Basketball to focus on several areas, including criminal justice reform at the national, state and local levels, reports NBA.com.

The League also introduced the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award and announced this year’s first finalists: Carmelo Anthony, Jrue Holiday, Tobias Harris, Harrison Barnes and Juan Toscano-Anderson, according to NBA.com.

There are many influential voices in the NBA, and Kenny Reactive Smith happens to be one of them. His job at TNT involves a lot more than playing basketball.

COMPARED TO: Michael Jordan’s famous competitive philosophy actually came from someone else He just adds more adjectives, otherwise he might curse.

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