On TNT’s “Halftime Report” Thursday night, co-host Charles Barkley left co-host Shaquille O’Neal pleading with him to stop after Barkley’s comments on the Jussie Smollett fiasco had O’Neal practically gasping for air from laughing so hard. Barkley referenced the evidence that Smollett had written a check to the two Nigerian brothers allegedly involved in the attack on him as well as actor Liam Neeson’s admission that years ago he had gone looking for a black man to hurt after a friend of his alleged she had been raped by a black man.
The segment starts with co-host Ernie Johnson posting one more post-it note on a wall filled with the team’s various predictions.
Co-host Kenny Smith asks: Ernie, what’s the most ridiculous one over there that’s still living that you would say has no chance of happening?
Barkley answers from the host’s table: Two black guys beating a black guy up.
That triggers Shaq to start cracking up.
The camera shows a close-up of the wall; one note reads: “Chuck: 11/1. The Blazers will have a better record than the Pelicans.” Another reads, “11-29-18. Chuck: The Clippers will not make the playoffs.”
Smith: That’s uh … that’s not on here, man.
Johnson, trying to keep the segment on track: Uh, the Clippers, well, the Clippers will not make the playoffs, and uh —
Shaq, laughing: What kind of hat, Chuck?
Barkley: MAGAS. MAGA hat. MAGA’s hat.
As the camera shows a close-up of some of the post-it notes and Johnson returning from the wall, Johnson, still attempting to keep the show on track, says, “I think that’s probably — I think that’s probably it. Okay. The Lakers will not make the playoffs; the Kings will, is the latest position. Go ahead, Kenny. I can’t believe you, Chuck.”
Shaq: You saying, you saying we can’t write ‘em a check, Chuck? (He starts laughing hard again.)
Barkley: America. America, let me just tell you something.
Smith: What’s that?
Barkley: Do not commit crimes with checks — (Shaq loses it again) C’mon, man, If you’re going to break the law, do not write a check. (Shaq is laughing so hard he’s throwing his head back)
Smith: Cause if you’re writing a check, then what?
Shaq, laughing hard: Cash up.
Barkley: Cash, man. I never used an ATM. Now, I heard you can only get $200 out of it.
Shaq, exhausted from laughing: Charles —
Shaq: Charles. Stop. Literally.
Barkley: You gonna make a lot of stops at an ATM?
Shaq, laughing: But you said, Chuck, America, America. (The screen shows a picture of Smollett smiling) Do not write a check when you commit illegal activity.
Johnson: I cannot believe that we completed — (Using a baseball reference) We touched ’em all, right there. Circle the bags. Touch every pillow.
Smith: He just said the Lakers would make the playoffs.
Barkley, repeating as the picture of Smollett is flashed on the screen: America, don’t commit crimes with a check. There’s Jussie; you wasted all that time and money. You know what you should have did? Just went up in Liam Neeson’s neighborhood. He could have solved all your damn problems.