Hustle Mindset

Kenny Smith Earns More As A TNT Host Than He Did In The NBA


Kenny Smith has become a familiar face in sports broadcasting, and he’s being fairly compensated for his contributions.

His background in sports can be traced back to his playing days on the basketball courts of the University of North Carolina, according to the National Urban League. Upon graduating with a degree in Industrial Relations, he would be drafted to the Sacramento Kings as a sixth overall draft pick in 1987, ESPN reports. On Oct. 14, 1987, Smith signed a multi-year contract with the team, RealGM mentions.

He would go on to play for several teams, including the Houston Rockets, for six seasons.

They would earn two National Championships in 1994 and 1995 during his tenure.

“I was one of the perfect pieces that fit into that championship mix,” Smith told Houstonia Magazine.

Smith played for a total of ten seasons in the NBA and also attached his name to the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, and Denver Nuggets. He reportedly earned $11,972,100 across his career, per HoopsHype.

His exit from the league in 1997 would be prompted by receiving one-year contracts, he tells Houstonia Magazine.

“Retirement [came about] when I started to get a lot of one-year situations. Like every year uprooting your family, moving to a different place became a little strenuous,” Smith explained.

Despite the doors of the league closing, Smith’s career was far from over. His future in sports broadcasting was destined. TNT had already showcased him in segments alongside fellow players, and his success in these endeavors soon led to a call that would open the doors to a decade-long journey.

“TNT used to bring in players every year…. After one segment, one of the producers was like, ‘Hey, if you really want to do this, I think you’re good at it.’ I thought it was just a parting gift they said to everyone,” Smith reflected to Houstonia Magazine. “Toward the end of my career I got a call from one of the producers and he said, ‘I have an opportunity for you.’ At that point I made a career decision and here I am 20-something years later.”

Smith would debut on the TNT network as a basketball analyst in 1998 starring on its segment “Inside the NBA,” alongside longtime sports broadcaster Ernie Johnson Jr.

Charles Barkley would sign on in 2000 and Shaquille O’Neal in 2011.

Smith’s contributions to the show have led him to receive four Emmys for Outstanding Studio Show, TNT notes. What’s more, he is also earning a pretty penny, with a reported salary of $16 million per year, per Herald Weekly.

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