Friday, August 12, 2005

STEPHEN A. SMITH: NBA CLOWN


A recent exposé in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, written by KARL TARO GREENFELD, assumes that reporter STEPHEN A. SMITH has become the new voice of the NBA because he tells the truth, albeit loudly. Well, Greenfield is half correct. Smith is an asshole, albeit a loud asshole. If he is the new voice of the NBA it is solely because his voice is the loudest, and that is the problem. The NBA can do better. There are better, more articulate, more honest voices sitting next to Smith, but they go unheard, drowned out by all the screaming.

GREG ANTHONY and STEVE KERR are polar opposites of Smith. They are both former NBA players with intimate knowledge of the game and it’s players. They are both interesting but not starved for attention, blunt but not confrontational, and unlike Smith, they both have a sense of humor. Unfortunately, Anthony and Kerr are being kept in the shadows from the spotlight ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and Karl Taro Greenfeld is shining on Stephen A. Smith.

The success of Smith is further evidence of the lack of faith that the NBA has in the collective intelligence of the fans. The NBA assumes that the fans are too dim-witted to absorb any thought-provoking commentary delivered by a qualified broadcaster. Instead, they believe that we must be entertained like children at a circus - drench our short attention spans with bright lights, loud music, and then bring out the clown. In that scenario the clown is STEPHEN A. SMITH, and his clown act is to loudly state an opinion and disregard facts, stats, or common sense.

Also, the NBA has constantly and tenaciously attempted to align itself to the ultra-young urban demographic. They assume that Smith appeals to the hip-hop generation. They are wrong on both accounts. While it is important to attract a young demographic, the NBA already has it. Young urban males are never going to leave the game and the players that they adore so much. It is overkill, an unnecessary waste of marketing dollars to preach to the choir. The NBA has abandoned the history of the game. It wants us to buy a new “street friendly” game that does not really exist, and as a result it has lost fans and/or failed to attract new fans.

Smith is an African-American raised in a tough, New York neighborhood, but that does not earn him extra credit from the league’s target audience. His background is irrelevant because he is a media figure, not a former player. He is a vociferous curmudgeon, never missing an opportunity to angrily defend the misdeeds of spoiled millionaire basketball players. What he is not, is an entertainer. He is simply never going to be what the NBA hopes he already is. Eventually, Smith will wear out his welcome and fade away like PETE VESCEY, TOM TOLBERT, and so many other NBA “experts” before him, and another broadcaster will step in.

It is time for the NBA, ESPN, and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED to raise their confidence in basketball fans. Stop focusing on the lowest common denominator and offer us an intellectual voice. And please respect us when we tell you that STEVEN A. SMITH and people like him have something to do with the fading popularity of your product.

3 comments:

  1. Tobey6:06 AM

    I have noticed a trend within my own absorbtion of NBA information:

    Every time Stephen A. Smith comes on to say his part I am thankful if the others (Greg Anthony, Steve Kerr, Tim Legler etc)have been able to voice their opinion. It just seems like as soon as SAS starts his ranting the conversation/discussion is killed.

    It's like a commercial block; Stephen A. Smith open his mouth and you get up out of your chair to get a coke and check the laundry...

    The NBA community deserves better.

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  2. I completely agree with you, Tobey. Thanks for the comment!

    ~ Rob W.

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  3. Anonymous7:41 AM

    Eventhough he is loud his comments have a lot of common sense and value to basketball fans with knowledge of the game.
    He's not afraid of the super stars of the game and can carry an intelligence interview with them.
    His TV program has had difficult personalities like Bobby Knight, Shak, Issaias Thomas, and others.
    Keep it up Stephen.

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