It is only fitting that Charles Barkley was the one who informed Ernie Johnson of his induction into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Barkley surprised the “Inside the NBA” host with the news while covering “The Match” together last week.
Chuck surprised Ernie with the news that he will be inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame 👏 pic.twitter.com/GWH6aL7rs3
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 29, 2023
Johnson has hosted “Inside the NBA” — TNT’s NBA studio show featuring Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith — since 1989.
“I am humbled beyond words, so thank you so much,” Johnson said. “It means the world to me. I’ve been at this for 34 years at the same place and over 40 years in broadcasting, and I’m stunned.”
Johnson will join an esteemed group in the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, which includes broadcasters such as James Brown, Doc Emrick, and Barkley (who was inducted in 2021). In addition to his NBA work, Johnson hosts various other shows for Warner Bros. Discovery Sports (formerly Turner Sports), including golf, Major League Baseball and men’s college basketball.
One of the most recognizable studio hosts in sports broadcasting, Johnson began his career in local TV in Georgia. And he shared recently on “The Dan Le Batard Show” that his days in local television helped him realize he was placing too much importance on his job. In one particular instance, he was working as a weekend sports anchor and was told by his producer his segment would need to be significantly shorter because she had mistimed the show.
While she was apologizing to him after the show, Johnson chewed her out in front of the production crew. He reconnected with her to apologize years later and ask for forgiveness. She told Johnson she forgave him immediately because that’s what her faith called her to do.
“The job is what I do, it’s not who I am…it took me a while to learn that…
…that was the defining moment that said, ‘get over yourself.’”
— Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (@LeBatardShow) June 2, 2023
As Johnson has climbed the broadcasting ranks, he’s developed his own faith in God. When he first got to TNT, Johnson didn’t believe he had much use for God because he was having success professionally without being a Christian.
He started attending Crossroads Chruch (now 12Stone Church, near Atlanta) to provide a spiritual foundation for his children. But not long after he started going to Crossroads, Johnson asked pastor Kevin Myers to meet with him because he noticed the impact the services were having on him. Johnson gave his life to Christ on Dec. 10, 1997, at the O’Charley’s restaurant where he met Myers.
Of Johnson’s six children, four are adopted. His son Michael was adopted from Romania in 1991 and diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. When Michael passed away in 2021, Johnson said in an Instagram post he was sustained by knowing he would see his son again one day.
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Johnson said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in 2017 that attending church made him reevaluate his priorities.
“I just started taking a much broader look at my life, and I was having an identity crisis,” he said on the podcast. “I was identified by what I did. That was who I was at that time — I was a sportscaster. I might want to tell folks I’m a husband and father first and a sportscaster later, but my life wasn’t reflecting that.”
Part of Johnson’s spiritual journey has been moving the focus away from himself and paying more attention to how he can better serve those around him.
“The Son of Man came to serve and not be served,” he said on the podcast, referencing Mark 10:45. “And that’s what I always try to remember. It’s not, ‘What are you going to do for me today but what can I do for you?'”
Even though his job comes with plenty of attention, and he receives a lot of accolades for it, Johnson tries to stay focused on sharing the love of Christ in his everyday interactions.
“I don’t think you can force it, but I think you have to be aware of circumstances in your daily life where you allow that light of Christ to shine,” he said on the podcast. “You have to be intentional about it when the situation arises. … I’m just trying to model what it means to be a follower of Christ.”
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