Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Desperate Man Works Feverishly To Keep His Name In The Kyrie Irving Story

Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty
Photo: Mitchell Leff/Getty

Stephen A. Smith first got his name into the Kyrie Irving trade story with a “report” that LeBron James would be “tempted, quote, to beat [Irving’s] ass, end quote.” You hear these stories from Smith, bleated with the cadence and volume of a string of firecrackers, and reflexively roll your eyes—he says so much of this exact sort of shit that it’s nearly impossible to take any of it seriously.


But its purpose is not to function as news—its purpose, as is the case with all Stephen A. Smith “reports,” is to get Stephen A. Smith into the story. And it worked! LeBron James took to Twitter to refute the central claim of the report—that LeBron wanted to beat up his teammate—which, of course, provided an opportunity for Smith to make the story not that the Cleveland Cavaliers are splintering, but rather that he, Stephen A. Smith, was now beefing with LeBron James:

You will remember, this is the exact same ploy worked by Smith to get his name into the Kevin Durant free agency story: drop a dubious and absurd-sounding “sourced” report; wait for it to be refuted by the athlete; then immediately spin that up into personal beef with the athlete. Stephen A. Smith is a gross loser who lives on the coattails of professional athletes.

The Kyrie Irving story isn’t exactly winding down so much as it has entered an uncertain holding period—Irving has not yet been traded, of course, and it is not clear that the Cavaliers are committed to trading him—but that doesn’t mean Stephen A. Smith can’t reinsert himself into it with more thrashing and bleating, bound together with just enough verbs and conjunctions to pass for human language. See if you can make any sense of this chopped word salad:

The flip side, however, is that maybe it’s not all about things being enough for James. Maybe, instead, it’s all about James going for it all … all the time.

Translation: Winning just on the basketball court isn’t enough for James. Clearly, he wants it to be about how he projects as a leader. About setting that shining example. And being loved, adored, idolized, even deified, for it.

Maybe that’s what James was saying when he proclaimed he’s chasing ghosts. Why he believes he can eclipse Michael Jordan.

Jordan may be an unblemished 6-0 in the NBA Finals and have three more rings than James. But for all the charitable things Jordan has done, it’s never publicized much. It’s James, not Jordan, who has been synonymous with impoverished communities he’s personally committed to uplifting. And James isn’t the one saddled with the infamous quote: “Republicans buy shoes, too!”

For the moment, however, who cares?

This is from a column published Friday, by Stephen A. Smith, on The Undefeated. The purpose of this column is ostensibly to shed light on the real motivations behind Irving’s trade request, as if that had not already been done in great detail by an ESPN report earlier in the week. But because there is nothing new to say on the topic, it spends the entirety of its 1,232 words floating and then immediately retreating from a series of half-formed ideas masquerading as conclusions, in true Stephen A. Smith “you KNOW I am sensitive to the Holocaust” fashion. Here are the paragraphs immediately preceding that jumble of nonsense above:

On one hand, nothing ever seems enough for James. He’s a superstar of the highest order. Incredibly philanthropic. Just as much as we know about the titles — and title losses — we also know he’s donated his time and millions of dollars toward putting kids through school and uplifting his community in Akron, Ohio. He’s an extraordinary businessman and icon. He’s socially conscious and appropriately outspoken, almost always.

Consider that he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 17, having now spent 14 years in the NBA, and that he has never been in any kind of trouble whatsoever. There aren’t enough laudables to fully appreciate his unquestionably pure greatness.

As a player. A role model. A father. A husband. A son. A businessman. An ambassador. A warrior, even, in the most authentic sense.

On the one hand, LeBron is a great guy in every possible sense. On the other hand, LeBron James gets a lot of attention for being a great guy. But, actually, who cares?

Who cares, indeed. This rubbish was apparently coherent enough to get packaged together under the delicious headline “Kyrie Irving Got Tired Of Being ‘Son’ To LeBron.” Is this headline heated enough to lure another athlete into an unfortunate beef with Smith? He can only hope.

Staff Writer, Deadspin