Every so often, your boy Stephen A. Smith gets on television and says something that most journalists wouldn’t dare, but that is a part of what makes him who he is. Controversial speech is just a part of what makes Stephen A, Stephen A. To be certain, when he spouts on race and societal ills from his often myopic and sometimes antiquated social viewpoins I turn the channel and just wait until he stops speaking. But Stephen A. Smith has proven that beyond his seemingly contrived verbosity there is a pretty damn good journalist. A journalist who was light years ahead of the pack when he predicted LeBron James would leave for sunny South Beach, and again when predicting King James’ return to Cleveland as well.
Yes, he’s a pretty damn good journalist.
Kevin Durant is an All-Star and as unique a scoring threat as any that has ever played in the NBA. He has been at the heart of much free agency speculation, the kind that always has some superstar going to either New York, Los Angeles or some hometown team. Back when LeBron returned to the Cavaliers, chitter-chatter across the blogosphere spoke of the unsubstantiated possibilities of KD going here or there.
That was a year ago.
One would think that Kevin Durant is to used media speculation by now. After all, he’s a former MVP, for crying over free throws. But maybe this statement by Stephen A made on Mad Dog in the Morning radio show sent him over the top.
"Regardless of how senseless it may (sound), in one breath I'm hearing that if Kevin Durant doesn't stay in Oklahoma City, L.A. is his primary objective and landing spot as opposed to South Beach or even his home of Washington, D.C."
To this Durant reportedly answered: "I don't talk to Stephen A Smith at all. No one in my family, my friends do. So he's lying."
Such a statement would bring an offended party to his or her own defense in most circumstances. But for Stephen A., and any other member of the fourth estate, being called a liar is the most nefarious insult of them all. For a journalist’s professional integrity to be assaulted is a sure fire fight starter.
The return volley came on First Take Monday morning. Everything you may have heard is true. Was it unprofessional? Yes. Did it wreak of narcissism? Sure did. Was it completely unnecessary? I imagine that it was. However, it needed to be done. Stephen A. Smith has built himself up to be a firestorm of bloviating, a prince of posturizing and a mouth without a pause.
Yes, Smith is a journalist beneath it all but he’s also big on image. From stories of his Hollis upbringing to the manner in which he is known to peacock his designer suits and the like. He seems to enjoy namedropping almost as much as mentioning how tough some of his friends are back in Queens. If a person were to write me a letter refuting anything that I stated as fact in any of my numerous columns then it would need to be addressed. Stephen A’s image, ego and sense of professional pride dictated that he respond.
Six minutes, six minutes, six minutes. Stephen A. Smith went on-and-on-and for six minutes.
Stephen A. was visibly upset that Durant, someone who he has only spoken favorable about in the past, was so convinced as to Smith’s dishonesty and alleged nefarious news-gathering techniques. Smith then meticulously went over each and every instance in which he interacted with Durant or his immediate family and friends.
Now it was Smith who was making the claims and pointing fingers.
It's very difficult to judge whether a man has the right to be feel disrespected and equally difficult to judge his next words or actions. As long as there are no babies or old people involved, do what you gotta do. However, I fear that Stephen A. did not have to do what he did. He could have simply released a statement and let it rock. But that wouldn’t have been enough to assuage his enormous ego and that’s a pity. He may feel all powerful, but Stephen’s cache is borrowed from those he wishes to interview and ESPN. The network provides him with a venue and medium but it would be wise for him to remember that fact the next time he decides to go on broadcast television to hoot and holler about something a player said. "You don't want to make a enemy of me," said Smith, but his reaction makes certain that an adversarial stance will be the status quo between he and Durant from here on out.
An unneccessary pity.