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Saturday Night Live Roasted The NBA Over Its Covid Situation, And Bowen Yang Dropped A Yao Ming Impression

SNL does an NBA on TNT segment with Bowen Yang as Yao Ming and Kenan Thompson as Charles Barkley.
(Image credit: Saturday Night Live/ NBC)

Saturday Night Live returned last night after a holiday hiatus and touched on a variety of subjects including how, umm, unusual the NBA has been lately. Thanks to the dramatic rise in Covid cases over the past month, teams haven’t exactly had all their familiar faces available for each game. Many squads have even been forced to sign minor league players and formerly retired players to emergency 10 day contracts in order to fill out their rosters. The emergency measures have led to some blowout losses, and of course, SNL had a lot of fun with that.

The sketch was set up as an NBA on TNT segment, which, first and foremost, allowed Kenan Thompson to bust out his A+ Charles Barkley impression. He was joined by Chris Redd doing his Kenny Smith and Bowen Yang having a lot of fun as the understated Yao Ming, who yes, is really, really tall in real life (7’6”!). You can watch the sketch below which features a variety of other cast members and host Ariana DeBose as a fan who was out for a girls night and was asked to fill in…

The NBA was widely praised for the very well organized bubble it created at Disney World when Covid-19 first hit. It proved sports in the United States could come back safely and successfully. That approach, however, made a lot more sense for a limited end of season and playoff run with a smaller number of teams. Asking players to isolate for a few months is a bit different than asking them to isolate for most of the year. So, the league has instead instituted a steady stream of testing and forced time away from the team for those infected, which has led to many outbreak clusters in which five or more players from a single team might all be out at the same time. 

Unlike a lot of NBA rosters right now, the current mix of Not Ready For Primetime Players is very deep. The longtime sketch comedy show typically waffles between top heavy and deep, and while there are still some huge stars around, there are a dozen or so comedians that are capable of stealing a sketch at any given time. That’s part of why we’re seeing so many sketches like this that bring in a lot of different faces for quick moments. It really plays to the cast’s strengths.

SNL will return next week with former cast member Will Forte returning to host the show. He’ll be joined by musical guest Maneskin and hopefully will bring with him a ton of really weird high concept ideas that don’t play super well with casual fans but are huge wins with the small minority of us who track perfectly with his sense of humor. 

Mack Rawden
Mack Rawden

Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.