'Inside the NBA' studio shows off custom Wisconsin Herd jerseys complete with Kenny Smith's face

Ernie Johnson (second from left) shares a laugh with other members of his Inside the NBA team on TNT: (from left), Shaquille O'Neal, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley.
Ernie Johnson (second from left) shares a laugh with other members of his Inside the NBA team on TNT: (from left), Shaquille O'Neal, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley.

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and Kenny Smith each received custom jerseys Thursday night as their TNT coverage of Milwaukee's win against the Los Angeles Clippers came to a close, and they came from an interesting place: The Wisconsin Herd, G-League affiliate of the Bucks.

The celebrated 'Inside the NBA' studio team showed off the flashy black threads during the final segment. The custom designs for a Feb. 7 Herd game in Oshkosh feature portraits of prominent Black Americans, and one of those portrayed is Smith, whose face appeared on the side of all the jerseys distributed to the studio team.

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"I'm laughing because they even got your hairline," O'Neal quipped.

Smith said his inclusion in the Herd promotion for Black History Month stemmed from a connection with his former college teammate at North Carolina, Wisconsin basketball legend Joe Wolf, a former Bucks player and assistant coach who occasionally serves as an announcer with the Herd.

According to the Herd's Instagram, other Americans who will be portrayed on the jerseys include:

  • Bessie Coleman, first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license

  • Frederick Douglass, social reformer and abolitionist

  • Paul Gaffney and Herbert Lang, stars with the Harlem Globetrotters

  • Kamala Harris, current U.S. Vice President

  • Rev. Jesse Jackson, political activist

  • Earl Lloyd, first Black man to play in the NBA

  • Tommie Smith, Olympic track and field champion whose Black Power salute on the podium in 1968 became an unforgettable moment

  • Harriet Tubman, legendary abolitionist and activist

  • Reggie Van Lee, management consultant

  • Madam C.J. Walker, entrepreneur regarded as the first Black female self-made millionaire through hair-care empire

  • Booker T. Washington, educator, orator and political leader

The Bucks' G-League affiliate will debut the jerseys with the theme of "Be The Light," and the portraits were painted by artist Patrick "Patcasso" Hunter. The jerseys will also feature "a traditional African Kente cloth design turned into a circuit board through its piping, numbers and words to represent the intersection of art within science, technology, engineering, arts and math."

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The uniform shorts will include artwork that highlights the respective legend's accomplishments. Paintings for each will be on display at the Steinhilber Gallery at UW-Oshkosh starting Feb. 6 and running throughout the month.

The Herd director of basketball operations, Tony Bollier, once worked in Atlanta as a production intern for Turner Sports in 2005, working primarily with the Inside the NBA show. Johnson, who was born in Milwaukee and given a number of "414" on his special jersey, gave a nod to Bollier and mentioned the recurring bit of Johnson's upbringing on "the mean streets" of Milwaukee.

JR Radcliffe can be reached at (262) 361-9141 or jradcliffe@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JRRadcliffe.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 'Inside the NBA' studio shows off custom-made Wisconsin Herd jerseys