I thoroughly dislike Stephen A. Smith. To be more specific, I thoroughly dislike Stephen A’s attempt at deep social commentary. When it comes to talking about basketball teams, the NBA playoffs, and free agency, his flamboyant and overwrought delivery makes him the man. But when it comes to serious social issues, I would truly prefer if Smith chose to bow out and keep his hyperbolic opinions to himself. It was corny of him to appear on The Arsenio Hall Show to defend Kobe Bryant‘s ignorant take on the Trayvon Martin tragedy by boorishly stating, “When I [Smith] give a damn, I’ll let you know.” It was similarly pathetic to see Smith praise Mark Cuban‘s honesty in admitting he is a bigot, while simultaneously reprimanding Black people on how we deal with overt racism. I always knew Smith’s big mouth was going to land him in a world of hurt, but I never could have predicted it was for a comment that I actually agreed with.
On Friday, Smith and Skip Bayless, hosts of ESPN’s widely popular debate show First Take, delved into NFL running back Ray Rice and his domestic abuse charges. And, unfortunately, Smith did exactly what he always does whenever a serious topic is presented on that show. He discussed it an immature manner that belies the vast importance of the issue at hand.
As someone who makes a point of focusing on the content of someone’s words more so than their delivery, I thought Smith’s analysis of domestic violence was fair. I heard him preempt his comments by continually stating that it is completely wrong for a man to hit a woman, and he even reiterated that point throughout his rant. My takeaway is that Smith doesn’t believe a man should ever hit a woman, but it is also wrong for a woman to instigate a physical fight with a man by hitting him (a point that Bayless brought up during the monologue he made before Smith’s). However, since Smith was crudely attempting to make a serious point, while also being entertaining, he came off like a chauvinistic asshole — and that was the moment the shit hit the fan.