Tag Archives: First Take

From Patrick Kane to Kevin Durant: Why Stephen A. Just Can’t Win


“You don’t want to make an enemy out of me.”

Needless to say, last week was a very eventful one for Mr. Stephen A. Smith. After responding to Kevin Durant’s comments about him being a “liar” and that he “makes up stories;” Smith took his national program on Monday ESPN2’s First Take; and delivered what many has considered a “personal threat” towards the basketball star. Smith’s lengthy diatribe made him an instant trending topic on social media via the Twitter. As expected, there were some cheers, but there were also many, many jeers.

Now while agree that Stephen A. was a bit out of line by, oh I guess, “threatening” former league MVP Kevin Durant; what I couldn’t understand (even though I should) the so-called black communities response towards Smith. They were acting like the First Take co-star was using his public platform to (in their eyes) go after another black man just for his employer’s aka ‘whitey’s enjoyment.’ Many considered his actions as ‘cooning’ and he wouldn’t dare do that to a white person; mainly the white person in question is fellow colleague, Michelle Beadle. See it was Beadle whose distraught comments exploded on Twitter during a First Take episode last year surrounding the Ray Rice domestic violence case and was upset with Smith’s choice of words.

Michelle Beadle ✔ @MichelleDBeadle

So I was just forced to watch this morning’s First Take. A) I’ll never feel clean again B) I’m now aware that I can provoke my own beating.

12:39 PM – 25 Jul 2014

3,725 3,725 Retweets   3,620 3,620 favorites

Even though Beadle broke company policy by going after another colleague on Twitter; Smith nevertheless was reprimanded and suspended for a week which included a rather “I need to save my job,” Carl Thomas-like, emotional apology. This came at a time when (feminist) woman’s rights groups were demanding tougher penalties towards athletes i.e. mostly the “Negroes” in professional sports most notably in the NFL. So while many Stephen A. detractors in the black community are using this incident against him when it comes to Kevin Durant; how soon they forget that we’re living in a P.C. society and for the sake of Stephen’s career; he had no choice but to apologize. Unfortunately, there are certain social-political groups that unless you have your own platform and is financed independently; you just can’t just address everyone—the way you might want to–all the time. It is no different than going to your employer and thinking you can just spout off at the mouth towards your boss; when you know darn well the repercussions will land you in the unemployment line. Still, black folks argue that Smith is allowed or only goes off on black people; and says nothing towards white [athletes’] people. Now before I go on, I must confess that Mr. Smith has made some rather unfavorable criticisms towards those of the black community. Those “criticisms” are as such because as many blacks will tell you its “white supremacist talking points,” that are often used by mostly conservative news networks in the media. Smith even received backlash when he agreed with Dallas Maverick’s billionaire owner, Mark Cuban; who was noted for making some uncomfortable remarks regarding the circumstances involving prejudice and race. This inevitably led to a showdown with accomplished author, scholar, and lecturer, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.

So is Stephen A. really the “Uncle Tom” that some black people have made him out to be? Is he really afraid to go after white athletes with the same fervor and eagerness as he does with black ones? Allow me to introduce to you one of the NHL’s brightest and most celebrated stars. He was the number one draft pick overall in 07’; and is a 3-time Stanley Cup Champion for the World Champion Chicago Blackhawks: his name is Patrick Kane. If you haven’t really heard of him well maybe because you’re not really into the NHL, sports or maybe, just maybe, because the mainstream media hasn’t plastered his name so ubiquitously like say uh, if he were black? Now some of you might take umbrage or think I’m trying to race bait; however, I can assure you I’m not—just painting a picture. Stephen A. on his eponymous radio show on Mad Dog Sports Radio; also decided to paint a picture as well. However, with the nickname of “Screaming Steven A.;” let’s just say his artistic, verbal, prowess, led him to paint the situation with a broad brush.

“-We’ve got an nation of people in an uproar when a handful of dudes, stupidly, egregiously, reprehensibly, involve themselves in a domestic issue—fair enough; deal with them. But we have white players; some foreign; some domestic; in the National Hockey League, getting involved in such issues; and there’s no uproar?”

For the rest of Stephen A.’s fiery rant, go to this link: https://soundcloud.com/the-stephen-a-smith-show/hear-what-stephen-a-had-to-say-about-the-patrick-kane-allegations

Smith calls out several organizations and sports leagues, such as N.O.W., The PGA, The ATP, The NHL and its Commissioner, Gary Bettman; who according to Smith, has better things to do then create a domestic violence policy because he believes his players “should know how to behave themselves.” The reason why I bring attention to this matter is because Stephen A. has spent years—20 and counting—defending the black athlete. Even to the chagrin of his various listeners, colleagues, and others in his industry who routinely labels him as being as a racist, race-baiting, loudmouth; who has even been compared to Civil Rights Activist, Rev. Al Sharpton. Trust me when I tell you it wasn’t in such a flattering way either.

In spite of his sundry of critics; he is quick to let everyone in America know without any hesitation that he’s a proud black man straight out of Hollis, Queens, NY. It is this same pride you will find emanating throughout his work as a former journalist, columnist, and currently as a t.v/radio personality which makes him unafraid to put up his credentials against anyone—which leads me back to Kevin Durant. Durant, along with several other notable African-American athletes, has often been very sensitive, critical, and aloof towards the media lately. It was just this past February, when Durant as Smith notes was “undressing” the media using Durant’s own words. “You guys really don’t know (expletive)…To be honest, man, I’m only here talking to y’all because I have to,” said the 6-time NBA All-Star. This was approximately around the same time when another superstar athlete—Marshawn Lynch—and his constant retorts to the media, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” became the most talked about story during the week of the Super Bowl outside of the Deflate Gate scandal. Of course, this was much to the dismay of Smith; who didn’t agree with Lynch’s actions and thought he really should have been fined.

While many contest that Smith is doing nothing but insulting another black man for his white bosses; many are missing Smith’s point. Smith claim is that Durant not only attacked his credibility as a journalist, but his character as a man by referring to Smith as a liar.

“I sit here today incredibly offended by the personal attack that this man has put against me. Even in the midst of all of that; let me tell you something Skip Bayless: Kevin Durant is a good dude. His family is wonderful, he’s wonderful, there’s nothing negative I have to say about this person as a human being. I am addressing what he said about me; I am not attacking Kevin Durant…”

Although Smith probably could have shortened his diatribe (among other things) this was the crux of Smith’s issue with Durant—something most of his detractors seemed to miss or just didn’t care to acknowledge. While Dr. Boyce Watkins (who I respect) may have labeled Durant’s and Smith’s beef a “plantation fight,” this isn’t the first time Smith has had to give a public response to another black athlete live on air. I’ma say it again. This isn’t the first time Smith has had to give a public response to an athlete on his show First Take. Back in 2012, former Steelers’ safety Ryan Clark was a guest correspondent during a segment surrounding the media criticism and reactions from athletes. Clark had made mention of Smith stating that athletes “wished they had his [Smith’s] job and they can’t articulate like him.” Not only did Clark mentioned that he had tweeted Stephen A. that he was qualified for his job; but that his hairline wasn’t pushed back. Notwithstanding, Stephen A. responded by letting Ryan Clark know what he could kiss.

While Stephen A. maybe an undaunted and unapologetic personality both on air and on social media; he might want to consider an exit strategy—and soon. He may not “run away from any damn body” but he might seriously need to invest in himself (as a proprietor) and establish an independent platform with subscribing listeners; or switch to another media broadcast brand altogether. And no, it’s not so he won’t have to suffer his “Negro Moment” for being what Dr. Watkins calls Smith’s position as a “propped-up Negro; rather because of the growing rumors of occupational uncertainty regarding ESPN anchors. With a reputation with letting go its best and brightest (and often most controversial); the sports leader let go two of its most celebrated and talented voices—Bill Simmons and Colin Cowherd—in the same calendar year [2015]. ESPN has also been known to cater to social-political groups (i.e. the far right) which make watching future programming on this network extremely difficult because of political correctness. It was political correctness that allowed Michelle Beadle not to be punished by her employer; AND which caused Stephen A. to recant his “provocation” remark when it comes to victims of domestic violence.

Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith was probably the last time Smith was considered a ‘brother’ or kept it ‘real’ in the eyes of many African-Americans. Though the show last a few seasons, it was a monumental step for the network at the time which allowed Smith to interview some of the most intriguing guest not just in the arena of sports and entertainment; but he provided a platform to many unknown black journalist and writers. These days it is the “keeping it real” factor that has placed Stephen A. in the same category of the likes of the Raven Symone’s of the world; and my personal retort to black people who believe that is: You’re so disrespectful. It is because Stephen A. refuses to be a part of the Negro groupthink monolith; and because he refuses to back down when it comes to defending the black athlete to the disdain to white folks–he gets attacked by the naysayers. So while his haters may accuse him of being a sell-out on one hand; or a proverbial race baiter on the other. One thing you can’t take from him is his loyalty to his people, the redeeming power of us as American blacks, and his unrelenting willingness to defend the African-American athlete–even if he is censorious sometimes. Peace and love everyone.

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“You better be careful what you say to me,” is what came to my mind when I heard ESPN’s First Take pundit, Stephen A. Smith was suspended for a week after his remarks about domestic violence involving the Ray Rice situation. It almost seems like Stephen A caught more backlash from social media then the actual perpetrator himself, Baltimore Ravens running back, Ray Rice. As Rice was greeted with support from Raven’s coach John Harbaugh and fans at training camp; Mr. Smith’s name and career continues to be dragged throughout the press as if he was in the elevator that night in Atlantic City. Stephen A. has been no stranger to controversy in his days at ESPN. Just a month ago, Smith was lambasted by the African-American community for his siding with Dallas Maverick’s owner, Mark Cuban, and his comments regarding the issue of race. Smith was also accused in the blogs and social media, for dropping the nefarious five letter word on air that is often found in the lyrics of hip-hop artists (a claim Smith has repeatedly denied) back in 2012. This time however, Smith has seemly backed himself into a corner by the mere mention of one word: “provoke.” As Stephen A. continued to expound on his point about domestic violence, a colleague of his, Michelle Beadle, expressed her disgust on Twitter:
“I’m thinking about wearing a miniskirt this weekend…I’d hate to think what I’d be asking for by doing so @stephenasmith. #dontprovoke”
-Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) July 25, 2014
Beadle, who is a co-host on ESPN2’s show SportsNation, revealed that she was once a victim of domestic abuse also added in her response: “Violence isn’t the victim’s issue. It’s the abuser’s. To insinuate otherwise is irresponsible and disgusting. Walk away.” On Monday’s First Take show, Stephen A. issued an apology to Beadle and others who felt like his words were ‘inappropriate’ and that he could have articulated himself better. If having to retract his original statement wasn’t bad enough, ESPN decided to take it a step further by suspending Mr. Smith for a week for comments that “didn’t reflect the views of the company.”
Really? Or in my Skip Bayless voice, “Are you kidding me?”
Before I let it be known why I find ESPN’s handling of this whole situation “hypocritical,” allow me preface my comments (as Stephen A would say) by saying I’ve been an avid supporter of the show-even back to its days when it was called Cold Pizza. The comments that were made by Stephen A. about domestic violence, has definitely been broached before on First Take. One could only remember the train wreck of what was called a “marriage” between former NFL star Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, and Basketball Wives reality star, Evelyn Lozada. Johnson, (who would be later charged with domestic abuse) was the topic of discussion circling around his then current team, the Miami Dolphins, who would later go on to sever its ties with Johnson following his domestic incident with Lozada. As with all things First Take, Stephen A., Skip Bayless, and then moderator, Jemele Hill, decided to discuss the turmoil that surrounded Chad Johnson. Here is an excerpt from what Stephen A said during the show:
“I have been on the record on national television and radio; you don’t have no business putting your hands on a woman. You put your hands on a woman you deserve the price that comes along with that. I have never put my hands on a woman; you shouldn’t have to put your hands on a woman, walk away. I’ve said that. But, there are plenty of instances where provocation comes into consideration, instigation comes into consideration …”
To see more, go to this link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8QctGdDYMI
Notice how the word “provocation” is uttered by Smith just like it was voiced by him on last Friday’s show. There was no recant. There was no contrived apology given. As a matter of fact, Smith wasn’t even reprimanded by the fine executives at ESPN. Now some of y’all will give the excuse, “That was different and Evelyn has a history of being confrontational and aggressive.” Be that as it may, it only highlights what Stephen A. was trying to vocalize when he said the word provoke. In no way was he “insinuating” that it was okay for a man to put his hands on a woman. On the contrary, just as he believes it’s not okay for a man to hit a woman; he is also tried of the men being vilified in such cases and we don’t ever scrutinize the woman’s role in a domestic dispute. Such is true in the case with Ray Rice, who’s now wife, Janay Rice, admitted she played a role (by hitting him) in her ultimately being assaulted. Of course no one knows the full details of the entire incident, however, I believe Stephen A’s point was that in some (definitely not all) instances it’s not always the man being the aggressor or antagonist. Maybe Stephen A. knows what psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Bates has already concluded when it comes to intimate relationships: women tend to be more aggressive and controlling than their male counterparts (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/relationships/10927507/Women-are-more-controlling-and-aggressive-than-men-in-relationships.html).
Now this leads me to one Michelle Beadle. I completely understand her overall point about domestic violence and how wrong it is for men to abuse women. I get that. However, I remember ANOTHER fellow ESPN colleague who at one time decided to voice his displeasure on Twitter about a certain segment he viewed on First Take. That person is one Bill Simmons. While conducting an interview with Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, Simmons decided to loathe his feelings about the interview on Twitter:
“It’s amazing to me that people get so worked up about First Take. Who cares? Just don’t watch it. There are like 800 TV channels.”
-Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) March 8, 2013
This and several other comments were made by Simmons on Twitter following the heated debate between Skip Bayless and Richard Sherman; which at one point Sherman replied “I’m better in life than you.” Simmons would go on to be suspended by ESPN (suspended from Twitter that is) for violation to their social media guidelines policy; a policy, that has somehow eluded Michelle Beadle’s disciplinary profile. I’m not C&C Music Factory, but this definitely rates as one of those things that make you go “Hmm.”
As this week comes to an end, there are new reports circulating that Stephen A. is STILL apologizing saying it’s the “most egregious error of his career.” All of this after doing what he is paid to do; give a daggone opinion!! I find it also telling that many people in the black community (yes, even black women) actually agree with Stephen A. when comes to men and WOMEN putting their hands on each other. Even daytime talk show host Whoopi Goldberg of The View, has sided with Stephen A. in reference to what he was trying to convey:
“Let me just point out the comment that he (Stephen A.) made is based on what the young lady said SHE did. Let me just make that clear to y’all (audience). She said ‘I hit him,’ and I believe that’s what Stephen A. was pointing to…”
To see more, go to this link: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MR0C-AlZl4)
Let’s not get it twisted people; domestic violence is wrong on all fronts. I just find it deplorable that we live in a society of double standards. Yes that same double standard that allows women to procreate with men and receives assistance from the system, (because she’s not financially able to take care of the child) that turns around and puts a man in the system if he can’t provide. I’m not making light of, or ignoring any woman who has truly been a victim of domestic violence; nor the ones who are involved in an abusive relationship now. What I am saying is if there is going to be an open discussion about domestic violence; let’s look at it from both perspectives, instead of it being one-sided ending with “that’s all folks.” No, that is not all, and until we as a society learn to understand each other better both humanistically and culturally, we’re going to continue to have biased, disingenuous conversations. An honest discussion is what Stephen A. was trying to have, but was punished; for what Michelle Beadle was allowed to do and was commended, despite breaching company policy. It also goes to show you that America STILL isn’t ready for honest discourse when the speaker just happens to be a black man. That is, unless their (A) bought off and controlled to fit a politicized agenda or (B) he is vouched for or validated by: the African-American woman. See, America only values the thoughts and opinions of the African-American community from the perspective of the African-American woman. So while I do value Ms. Goldberg’s input and support; Stephen A’s original statement or the word “provoke,” should not have hurt more than Ray Rice’s actual abuse to his wife. So in the words of another (now former) ESPN colleague, Rob Parker: “NO WAY, NO HOW!”

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