CHARACTER COUNTS

Inside the NBA’s Ernie Johnson makes heartfelt impact for father and son

May 8, 2024, 7:43 PM

Author Ben Kaplan shares on social media the story of his connection between his family and TNT bro...

TNT basketball analyst Ernie Johnson on air before the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game between the Purdue Boilermakers and the North Carolina State Wolfpack at State Farm Stadium on April 06, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

TNT broadcaster Ernie Johnson is one of the faces of Inside the NBA. A story told by basketball author Ben Kaplan this week as the future of the show is up in the air speaks to the impact Johnson has made when the cameras aren’t rolling.

Kaplan took to X and detailed the story of Johnson doing two good deeds that were full-circle between Kaplan’s bar mitzvah and the death of his father.

When Kaplan was turning 13 years old, his father surprised him with a video featuring Johnson, Kenny Smith and former co-hosts Peter Vecsey and George Karl.

Kaplan’s father was able to get the segment for Kaplan by calling TNT and got a call back from Johnson as the TNT crew produced the segment during the 2000 NBA Playoffs.

Ben Kaplan and Johnson reconnected in 2022 when Kaplan’s father was battling cancer. Ben got in touch via email and Johnson sent his father a personalized video for his 72nd birthday. Johnson shared his number with Kaplan’s father and they kept in touch during his cancer treatments.

A few months later, Kaplan and Johnson appeared on Meredith Shiner’s podcast to discuss the story.

Shortly after the episode’s release, Kaplan’s father passed away.

Kaplan dedicated his upcoming book, ‘Pipeline to the Pros: How D3, Small-College Nobodies Rose to Rule the NBA’ to his father and thanks Johnson for the gift.

Johnson responded on X to Kaplan’s story, thanking Kaplan for sharing it and sending well wishes to him and his family.

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Inside the NBA’s Ernie Johnson makes heartfelt impact for father and son