Did Ernie Johnson Play in the NBA?

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Ernie Johnson Jr., aka “EJ”, is one of the most recognized faces in the NBA and has been the host of “Inside the NBA for over 30 years. Did Ernie Johnson Jr. play in the NBA?

Ask EJ anything about basketball, and he’ll give you a precise analysis and detailed information on everything. But he never played professional basketball.

But, he played baseball as a freshman for the University of Georgia Bulldogs baseball team in 1975. He played for one season as a first baseman and focused on his studies afterward.

Look at how EJ ended up as the top basketball host in a career that former NBA players and coaches dominate.

Who is Ernie Johnson JrWho is Ernie Johnson Jr.?

Ernest Thorwald Johnson Jr. is a well-known American sports broadcaster and television personality. He was born on August 7, 1956, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jonson pursued a Journalism degree at the University of Georgia and graduated summa cum laude in 1978. He was picked as the Outstanding Young Alumnus in 1986. Johnson’s marriage to Cheryl was blessed with two biological children, and the couple adopted four.

His passion for sports broadcasting was influenced by his dad Ernie Johnson Sr., the Atlanta Braves game commentator, and a Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher.

Johnson began his career in journalism as a news and sports journalist for various radio stations and TV channels. In 1989, he came on board as a sports anchor and reporter at Turner Sports. He hosts “Inside the NBA” on TNT, a famous basketball talk show. In addition, Johnson covers NCAA’s March Madness games for TNT and CBS, MLB games and the PGA Championship exclusive to TNT.

Earlier, Johnson broadcasted NFL games, the British Open golf tournament, the Wimbledon tennis tournament, and the Olympics. From 1993-96 the son and dad tandem covered the Atlanta Braves matches.

Johnson is a devout Christian and is respected for his charitable work. He has been involved in several Christian organizations throughout his career,  including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He helped raise donations for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make the wishes of children with deadly illnesses come true.

Johnson has won numerous awards as a sports broadcaster, including six Sports Emmy Awards for Best Studio Host in 2002, 2007, 2015, 2019, 2020, and 2021. His professionalism and capacity to connect with his audience have earned him widespread admiration.

Ernie Johnson on NBA TNTErnie Johnson on NBA TNT

Ernie “EJ” Johnson Jr. hosts Inside the NBA on TNT, one of the most popular basketball talk shows on television, running for over 30 years. EJ became the full-time host in 1990, a year after the show started, with former or current NBA players sitting in as analysts. 

Today, three former NBA players join EJ co-hosting Inside the NBA, namely Charles Barkley (2000), Shaquille O’Neal (2011), and Kenny Smith (1998). The beloved foursome had their contracts renewed before the NBA 2022-23 season by Discovery Sports, formerly Turner Sports.

It’s certainly not a walk in the park hosting a show with three people of varied personalities. When the conversation gets heated or the topic gets sidetracked, EJ butts in with his measured approach, steering the conversation back on course. His impressive communication skills and disposition rub off on the other hosts and viewers.

Moreover, EJ is an expert interviewer. His thought-provoking questions bring out the best in the prominent figures he interviews. EJs calm demeanor and professionalism put his guest at ease to talk openly and discuss their views about the subject. He’s good at conveying exciting stories and memories of his guest. Check out this interview with the Black Mamba during his farewell season.

What sets EJ apart from the competition is his likable personality and accomplished broadcasting skills. He transforms complex concepts into simple language that viewers can easily understand. EJ’s humor and witty remarks diffuse tension during a heated conversation.

Did Ernie Johnson Ever Play in the NBADid Ernie Johnson Ever Play in the NBA?

Fans enjoy the wisecracks and banter provided by Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy when they broadcast the play-by-play account of live basketball games. Both anchorpersons earned their basketball smarts through direct involvement with the sport. Jackson is a 17-year NBA pro, while Van Gundy is an 18-year NBA coach, seven years as an assistant coach, and 11 years as a head coach.

But there is a sports personality that is respected and loved by many – Ernie Johnson. He is a man who knows the ins and outs of basketball and a studio host of the Inside the NBA show. Was Ernie Johnson an NBA player?

Although Ernie Johnson analyses NBA games, he never had professional basketball experience. He is a journalist who started as a sideline reporter before becoming the full-time host of one of today’s most popular sports shows.

Ernie Johnson gained knowledge of the sport by covering NBA games for over 30 years, interviews with players and coaches, and conversations with basketball experts. He is a versatile announcer covering other sports, such as baseball and football matches and the PGA tours.

Ernie Johnson’s Impact on Basketball Ernie Johnson’s Impact on Basketball 

Inside the NBA is synonymous with Ernie Johnson Jr. having hosted one of the longest-running sports talk shows. The unscripted moments make the show unique, and when you hear Johnson’s voice behind the microphone, you’ll be certain to enjoy something.

The guy mixes his in-depth analysis of the sport with humor, animation, and mixed emotions. EJ impacted basketball in many ways.

Sports Broadcaster

His witty commentaries and dissection of complex plays make viewers feel that they are in the middle of the action and appreciate the sport. EJ is an excellent narrator weaving stories of the different activities on the court and players’ reactions to game situations.

EJ is a seasoned broadcaster skilled in asking in-your-face questions without getting on the interviewee’s nerves. Guests are persuaded to give honest answers on issues unclear to the regular viewer.

Working with three co-hosts with diverse opinions sometimes leads to a heated debate. EJ steps into the fray; his humor and kind demeanor diffuse tension.

Other Basketball-Related Shows

EJ is connected with these other basketball-related shows of TNT.

  • Outside The NBA – the four panelists discuss topics outside the NBA but within the boundaries of basketball.
  • The Inside Story – a four-episode mini-series, 90 minutes per episode, cataloguing Inside the NBA.
  • The Steam Room – a video podcast consisting of interviews with friends of Barkley and Johnson that includes former sports broadcasting figures, former NBA players, and entertainers. 

Devout Christian

Ernie Johnson Jr. is a devout Christian; his faith is important in his life, and he publicly talks about his religion. He supports Christian causes such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

His true colors rubbed on others and touched and positively impacted their lives.

Ernie Johnson Jr.’s impact on basketball is multifaceted and far-reaching. Through his work as a sports broadcaster and television personality, he has helped to popularize the sport, provide insightful analysis, and inspire and mentor others in the industry. He is a candid supporter of charitable causes and diversity, making a positive impact both on and off the court.

Wrapping Things Up: Did Ernie Johnson Play in the NBA?

For a guy who knows a lot about NBA, when was Ernie Johnson’s NBA draft?

EJ was not drafted and never played in the NBA, but he is a household name, well-loved by people in the basketball circle.

EJ’s calm demeanor diffuses conflict and his humor illicit laughter when the discussion among his co-hosts: Shaquille O’Neil, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith, gets heated. He is a devout Christian who shares his blessings through Johnson Forward and Make-A-Wish Foundations, among others. 

So, how can you hate or criticize this type of person?

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

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Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

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