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SportStephen A. Smith is the man at ESPN and that leads to plenty of jealousy at the Worldwide Leader

20:30  25 may  2019
20:30  25 may  2019 Source:   nydailynews.com

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Stephen A. Smith is the man at ESPN and that leads to plenty of jealousy at the Worldwide Leader© John Salangsang / John Salangsang/Invision/AP

This should be the best of times for Stephen A. Smith. As the NBA Finals approaches, his role in ESPN/ABC’s coverage expands significantly. He is its face and voice.

Smith is coming off a major coup with the “First Take” episode featuring the much-watched interview with Earvin Johnson. During the spot, Magic spilled sour grape juice all over his departure as Lakers president. And if he didn’t already have enough ESPN exposure, we have heard the Faculty is making SAS the point-man on its May 28th NBA Finals special where he will work with Magic, Michael Wilbon and Doc Rivers.

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Still, when he’s working on ESPN-98.7, Smith is taking deep breaths and instead of whiffing the sweet smell of success he’s smelling raw sewage. Much of this is about colleagues who have been critical of the Johnson interview. Some of their Twinkie Munch theories are based on SAS being friends with the Hall of Famer, something Smith has stated publicly many times.

The in-house critiques of the interview were brought to Smith’s attention by a caller to his radio show. Smith said Johnson knows he made some bad moves with the Lakers, but his work ethic should never be questioned.

“Neither should mine,” Smith said on the air. Yet Smith says ESPN has its share of Rob Pelinkas spreading dirt on him.

“I’m insulted everyday by people inside this company, not just outside,” Smith said on the air. “I’m not a liability, I’m an asset. I can point to a number of people who are liabilities but I never will. ... But make no mistake about it, I’m in a position to eat people alive any day I want to. But they know I won’t. It’s not the professional thing to do. That’s why they keep this nonsense alive.”

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An NBA media source said it’s not uncommon to hear others involved in ESPN’s NBA coverage “chirping about” Smith. “It’s apparent some of his on-air colleagues are jealous of him,” the source said.

Smith, on the air, said they have no room to talk because not enough people at ESPN are working hard.

“Their definition of working is talking about other people so they can look relevant,” Smith said. "There are people who think gossip is production, who never generate ratings. But when they are on vacation, they still want to talk about what they deserve while most people are working.”

Smith would go on to talk about this subject a second day on his radio show, saying some “people in the company” are wondering why he has “his own” radio and TV shows and asked why ESPN “hasn’t hired a foil” to work with him on the radio show? Smith offered a simple answer: “No one out works me.”

So, what’s going on here? A lot of it has to do with some of the media saying Johnson didn’t work hard (allegedly GM Pelinka was stirring that pot) at the job of being Lakers prez, which Smith saw as a racial stereotype with no basis in fact and something he has experienced too. And with the Finals and a marquee free agent signing period approaching, the competition between all ESPN NBA snoops is ramped up and amplified.

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ESPN has made Stephen A. Smith the man. And that title makes you a target of friend and foe alike. It’s silly. But it’s true.

FEUD FOR THOUGHT

Kevin Durant’s “feud” with Fox Sports Radio’s Chris Broussard provides evidence why the sensitive star will have problems with the media (even fawning Knicks’ types) if he decides to come here.

Durant was not happy when Broussard, on Fox Sports Radio, said Golden State winning the NBA title would be K.D.’s worst nightmare and devalue the two rings he already won while playing by the Bay.

Broussard claims to have received 60 direct messages from Durant on this matter. Durant denies Broussard’s claim.

Yet if it is true, think about it. Durant is upset at a Fox Sports Radio voice, who compared to NYC’s Valley of the Stupid yakkers, has little reach or exposure. How is Durant going to feel if he does come to the Drecka and is ripped by the Sports Pope or Big Head? Then there’s the newspapers, websites, TV and other assorted media precincts?

If he spends Broussard-like time reacting to all the static, Durant won’t have time to practice.

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DOLAN GETS ONE RIGHT

Hiring John Davidson as Rangers prez is the best decision of James (Guitar Jimmy) Dolan’s uneven (that’s being kind) career as Garden boss.

Way back when, BD (before Dolan), we could see that as a broadcaster Davidson was different. He prepared hard – while still making time for everyone — talked up a storm and had the thirst to learn. He just didn’t communicate with the team he worked for, but was on the phone asking questions about other teams, especially the next opponent.

That’s how Davidson was able to bring fresh info to nearly every Rangers MSG telecast. His personality, his signature “Oh Baby!” call, his ability to seemingly communicate one-on-one with every fan watching, his chemistry with Sammy Rosen, his penchant for providing balance to the cablecast, brought him to the top of his profession at the time.

Davidson was great speaking on the record or off (especially when the assembled were throwing a few back). Now he has done what it takes to try and reach the mountain top, running a team he played and yakked for. As he said, “a dream come true.” At the introductory press conference this week, James Dolan said he had hired one of the NHL’s “top executives.”

True. More importantly, he hired an even better person.

STUDIO DRAMA

The end of the NBA season brings the crowning of a champ, the free agent frenzy, and speculation of what ESPN is going to do with its NBA studio show.

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It happens every summer. Reading the tea leaves tells us Rachel Nichols, who hosts “The Jump,” is eyeballing a spot in ESPN’s NBA studio, which will likely make current host Michelle Beadle antsy.

Then there’s Whatshisname, aka, Stephen A. Smith. We’re sure his detractors would be thrilled if he ended up as lead dog in the NBA studio.

AROUND THE DIAL

NBA moles say the Brooklyn Nets and Verizon/Yahoo are trying to make a deal creating an app, similar to the Mets $3 million app that was scheduled to debut opening day but is still on the shelf. ... After Carlos Gomez hit a go-ahead home run Thursday afternoon Mets SNY voice Gary Cohen proclaimed: “The prodigal son has come home.” A bit later, on SNY’s “The Thread,” John Jastremski took issue with the call. “The Prodigal son? That’s a bit much.” Guess J.J. won’t be making a cameo in SNY’s Mets both anytime soon. ... Have seen Charles Barkley on “Get Up” so much we’re wondering if he’s contemplating a move to ESPN. Or is this about him needing a break from his TNT studio mates? ... Sal Licata, on SNY’s “Loudmouths” actually said, “the media is making it (the Jets situation) chaotic.” Did Sally Boy borrow that line from Joe Benigno?

* * *

DUDE OF THE WEEK: KEANON LOWE

For saving lives. Lowe, the head football coach at Parkrose High in Portland, Oregon tackled a student who was carrying a gun last week, holding him down preventing

shots from being fired. Lowe, who played college football at Oregon, says he’s not really sure what’s next for him: “But I am sure I want to be a part of the solution to stop gun violence.”

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DWEEB OF THE WEEK: ADAM GASE

For bending the truth. A few weeks ago, Gase commented on reports of a rift between him and Mike Maccagnan, saying: “I don’t read much because a lot of this stuff is crap.” Last Thursday, Gase pulled another whopper out of his bag of bull, insisting not only that he had nothing to do with Maccagnan’s demise but didn’t know the GM had been fired until Christopher Johnson told him. Gase’s postgame press conferences should be events. Don’t forget to bring your lie detector.

DOUBLE TALK

What Brodie Van Wagenen said: “We have experienced a start to the season that none of us are happy with. ... But the finger pointing is not going down the chain of command to the players and the coaches.”

What Brodie Van Wagenen meant to say: “Come get me.”

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Stephen A. Smith is the man at ESPN and that leads to plenty of jealousy at the Worldwide Leader
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