Stephen A. may be right on LeBron
I don’t know if anyone else had the same experience, but Stephen A. Smith dominated my sports world Monday afternoon and into the evening. Seemingly every headline on the ‘net and every sarcastic Tweet — especially from a pretty popular Celtics fan/self-professed NBA guru — was dedicated to ripping the former ESPN talking head into shreds.
What controversial thing did he say this time? Well, nothing too out of the ordinary actually.
But the Fox Sports Radio host caused a stir when he declared that Cleveland Cavaliers free agent LeBron James would not be going to Chicago to play with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah on the Bulls after all. Rather, Smith proclaimed that King James is on his way to Miami — along with Chris Bosh — to play with Dwayne Wade on the Heat.
Obviously, with July 1 approaching and every general manager with money to spend salivating at the thought of James in his team’s uniform, NBA free agency is expected to dominate the headlines this week — especially with the cute U.S.A. soccer story now dead for the next four years.
The uproar Monday occurred mainly because of Smith’s comments over a week ago on ESPN Radio that had everyone spreading the news that LeBron was going to sign with the New York Knicks.
“From what my sources tell me, he still hasn’t made a final decision, but he’s higher on New York now than he was a month ago,” Smith said on June 18. “And the reality is that he is leaning more towards New York than he is towards returning to Cleveland.”
Smith also mentioned that his sources said that James’ advisers have been asking “very in-depth questions” about the Knicks organization and that the Cleveland free agent may not sign with the Bulls because he doesn't want to compete with Michael Jordan’s legacy.
Now, nowhere in the report and at no time while he was on the air did Smith say James was absolutely, 100 percent signing with the Knicks. But the media and NBA fans across the world said so anyway.
So when Smith declared Monday on his radio show that James was going to South Beach, the world immediately portrayed Smith as a moron, a hack reporter and simply hungry for listeners.
I get why some people don’t like Stephen A. He tells it like it is, he could be a little off-putting and he could get a little loud on the air. And, when it’s convenient, he plays the race card.
But in terms of his NBA sources, name me one writer who has been right on a story 100 percent of the time.
I’ll wait while you come up with one.
Stephen A. Smith is certainly no Peter Vecsey.
All Smith did was provide his audience with the pulse of this situation as he currently sees it. One thing to keep in mind as we play GM and prescribe where players should go: LeBron himself may not know where he’s signing yet.
Sound crazy? About as crazy as a guy named World Wide Wes supposedly running this entire circus, right? And I stress supposedly because LeBron will only answer to LeBron at the end of the day.
Again, keep in mind that Smith never said that James would be a Knick next season. He simply said that he was strongly considering New York, as he likely is strongly considering Chicago and Miami.
It’s called an evolving story.
Smith stood behind his claim Monday afternoon on 790 The Ticket, and even let his guard down by throwing in an “I hope to God I'm absolutely right.”
Well I do, too, Stephen A. But even if you’re not, you won’t be the only one to stand by your sources and ultimately be off on a story.
You can also be right — right now — only to have James change his mind. He can do that, you know.
Personally, I think he’d be insane not to sign with the Bulls and play with two emerging stars in Rose and Noah and for a coach in Tom Thibodeau who knows how to take him out of a playoff series.
But I’ll patiently wait until LBJ officially signs with a team. Until then, I will take Stephen A. at his word — unless he proclaims, once again, that the Knicks should never have fired Isiah Thomas. Then we have a problem.
Follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave
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