ESPN human ringtone Stephen A. Smith is responding tonight to a letter from Lamar Odom’s lawyer, tweeted Friday by Odom with the hashtag “#slander,” saying that his comments were meant solely to attack Phil Jackson and not the former NBA star’s struggles with drug addiction.

Smith, who ranted Thursday about Jackson having signed Odom while making multiple references to Odom using crack cocaine, did not respond to most of Odom lawyer Saam Zangeneh’s issues with the First Take meltdown; he did, however, iterate his “personal affection” for the two-time NBA champion: 

Because of my personal affection for Lamar Odom — and only for that reason — I want to return to my comments about something I’ve repeated quite often over the last few days: the flagrant ineptitude that I feel has been on continual display by Knick’s President Phil Jackson.

My comments were NOT to put any more focus on Lamar Odom’s much publicized drug use and addiction. He was not the target of my ire.

The sole focus of my comments were directed at the unmitigated disaster that Phil Jackson has created since he’s arrived in New York. It my opinion, he simply couldn’t leave soon enough.

Lamar Odom is simply one of the nicest athletes any of us have encountered, and has always been a gentlemen to everyone in NBA circles — including me — which is something I’ve repeated throughout the years.

That’s why it’s worth repeating: Lamar Odom was not the focus of my ire. My comments were entirely, totally, meant for Phil Jackson. Anyone who loves the NY Knicks, who’ve witnessed what has been transpiring over the last three years, know exactly who I was directing my comments to.

And Why!