'An icon': Milwaukee native and longtime 'Inside the NBA' host Ernie Johnson inducted into 2023 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame

Ernie Johnson was part of the nine-person 2023 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame class.
Ernie Johnson was part of the nine-person 2023 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame class.

Ernie Johnson went from the "Mean Streets of Milwaukee" to the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

The longtime host of "Inside the NBA" on TNT and sports broadcasting legend had his moment in the spotlight Tuesday night as he took his spot among the best of the best in the profession.

"Blessed to be here," Johnson said on stage, often repeating how "blessed" he was, not only in his career but his life.

His broadcast colleagues, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal, presented him with a trophy on stage, a fitting moment since he's been the leader of the quartet for years on the popular NBA studio show.

"We love you," Smith said to Johnson. "Definitely deserve it."

Ernie Johnson has covered everything over his broadcasting career

Johnson's broadcasting résumé shows that.

  • Six-time Sports Emmy-Award winner for Outstanding Studio Host

  • Host of "Inside the NBA" for 33 years, with 17 Emmy Awards

  • Major League Baseball broadcaster (1993-present)

  • NCAA men’s basketball tournament studio host (2011-present)

  • NFL (1990-97)

  • FIFA World Cup (Italy 1990)

  • Winter Olympics (Albertville 1992, Lillehammer 1994)

  • Goodwill Games (St. Petersburg 1994, New York 1998, Brisbane 2001)

  • Wimbledon (2000-02)

  • College football (2001-05)

  • Golf (1995-2023)

He's also a New York Times best-selling author.

As seen, his broadcasting career has taken him all over the world and has covered nearly every sport.

Ernie Johnson grew up in Milwaukee; his dad was part of Braves' World Series team

But before then, Johnson was wandering the "Mean Streets of Milwaukee" as a youngster. Johnson has joked over the years on-air about his early years growing up here and playfully uses that phrase when describing his hometown, including when he returned to the city with the show during the 2019 NBA Eastern Conference finals.

Johnson's dad, Ernie Johnson Sr., was a member of the World Series champion 1957 Milwaukee Braves team. The family moved to Atlanta after Johnson Sr. retired and the younger Johnson was 9 years old.

Johnson lauded his family in his emotional induction speech that included his wife of 41 years, who "put up with my schedule," as well as his six children who leave him in "awe" and five grandchildren "who bring us such pleasure."

Ernie Johnson has been mainstay on 'Inside the NBA' for over three decades

Johnson's early days in television news and sports came in Georgia at local stations before he made the jump to Turner Sports in 1989. For a few seasons, he even called Atlanta Braves games with his dad.

He became host of "Inside the NBA" in 1990 and has helped it become the standard in studio shows, as his reputation continues to grow.

"I’m blessed to still work at a job I love and they pay me to do it," Johnson said. "That’s beyond and above. It’s something I've never taken for granted."

Johnson added he's been "blessed with coworkers who are really much more."

Ernie Johnson's colleagues react to his Hall of Fame induction

His co-workers showered him with praise for not only his work but more for being a great person.

"He’s a pro's pro," said Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Grant Hill, who has worked at Turner for the last 10 years. "He’s genuine, he’s incredibly talented, he’s authentic, he’s funny as all. I can’t think of someone more deserving. He’s an icon. He really is an icon, who’s just a regular guy."

Adam Lefkoe, the host of Tuesday's NBA studio show on TNT, called Johnson his mentor and the "godfather" of the NBA's coverage.

"The only thing that matches his heart is his talent," Lefkoe said.

Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, who has worked with Johnson for 23 years, noted Johnson's "humility, his honesty, his kindness" as characteristics that stand out most.

It was only fitting that Barkley revealed to Johnson this summer that he was part of the 2023 class when they were calling "The Match" golf broadcast.

Other inductees in the 2023 Hall of Fame class included Val Ackerman, Big East commissioner, the founding president of the WNBA and past president of USA Basketball; NBC Sports' Cris Collinsworth; and Andrea Joyce, among others.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ernie Johnson Hall of Fame broadcasting speech: 'Blessed to be here'