Ernie Johnson was driving from San Antonio to Oklahoma City during the playoffs last spring when Kenny Smith, his TNT studio confrere, called to say Maverick Carter, LeBron James' business partner, was looking for him.
Intrigued - and with eight hours to kill - Johnson quickly agreed and learned Carter wanted him to shoot a cameo appearance in Atlanta for the new Starz show on which James is an executive producer, "Survivor's Remorse."
"I said, 'Sure, that's cool, just let me know,'" Johnson said.
At the time, Johnson had no idea what he was getting himself into.
"I'm going to be in the fourth episode; I hope it makes it that far," he said. "Then you see some of the buzz around it and a lot of the writers really like it."
His episode premiered Saturday, and Johnson saw it along with everyone else, without the benefit of an advance screener DVD.
"We were really pleased with how it came out," he said. "My wife and I were watching it and just laughed."
The show focuses on a newly wealthy pro basketball player and his entourage, including his cousin and manager, played by RonReaco Lee, who in Episode 4 tries to gain admission to the oldest black-owned country club in the U.S.
Johnson, who is white, plays a regular at the club. Other members are offended by how Lee's character deals with that incongruity and eventually deny him admission.
Johnson was pleased that it was the other members, not him, who made the decision in the script.
"I come off as being so cool I would never do that," he said.
Johnson said he practiced his lines diligently with his wife. "I wanted to know this cold," he said.
Among his lines was one in which he said his TNT partner Charles Barkley actually has a sweet golf swing but in front of cameras pretends not to for hustling purposes.
Asked about that at a TNT preseason luncheon Monday, Barkley mistakenly thought Johnson had said that in an interview rather than in a scripted comedy show, so he answered seriously.
"I can't play under pressure," he said. "The best way to say it is I can't play under pressure. I hit good shots on the driving range but I get nervous when I get on the course.
"It's just pressure. I wish I could solve it. I don't know why I choke under pressure when I get on the golf course."
"Survivor's Remorse" has two episodes remaining this season. Starz has ordered a second, 10-episode season.