TV | January 16, 2022 6:00 am

On “SNL,” a Nets-Kings Game Takes a Bizarre Turn

Plus? Bowen Yang played Yao Ming.

"SNL" riffs on "NBA on TNT"
"SNL" riffed on "NBA on TNT" this week.

Professional sports in the time of Omicron has made for some surreal moments. With players out after testing positive, it’s led teams in many sports to make unexpected personnel decisions — and sketch comedy shows to riff on those same decisions. This week’s Saturday Night Live featured an NBA on TNT-inspired sketch. The premise? Shortly before a Nets-Kings game, literally everyone on the Kings’ roster was ruled out due to COVID-19 — which led to some unexpected roster decisions.

Conceptually, this made for a fun sketch. It also featured, among the NBA on TNT hosts, Bowen Yang playing Yao Ming, which made for some of the sketch’s biggest laughs. Some of that was due to the fact that Yang was made to look like a giant on the set; some of it was due to his interactions with the rest of the hosts, several of whom were clearly trying hard to not break character.

The sketch followed what’s become a familiar pattern this season: a premise that featured a significant number of cast members (plus guest host Ariana DeBose) and give them all something to do. Based on that alone, the sketch worked out well, with DeBose making a good impression as the sole Kings player to actually score a point and Kyle Mooney as a grade-school coach all too aware that he’s out of his depth.

There are few actors working today who could turn both Yao Ming and the iceberg that sank the Titanic into indelible comic figures. Bowen Yang, however, has pulled it off.