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But who is Stephen A Smith? Profile of an NBA legend… who never played in the NBA

Three notches above a Daniel Riolo, Stephen A. Smith restores its letters of nobility to the profession of “polemicist”. He is the face of an NBA that is offended, laughs, scandalized, crazy, while keeping its old standing intact. insider. He knew the paper, the raw and flat information, to be considered today as the number one sports entertainment on American television.

No need to squeal your shoes yourself, just know the sound. The adage is ours, tailor-made to introduce the journey of an autodidact who made his mark where nothing predestined him. A pure product of Queens (mythical New York district) whose father owned a hardware store. A hardware store is a type of retail business, intended for professionals or individuals, mainly selling tools, supplies and DIY equipment (screws, locksmithing, etc.), or household utensils. We call « quincaillier » the manager of this business. Closing this little aside which was not really useful, Stephen A. Smith was educated at Thomas Edison High School – still in Queens – and graduated in 86. This is where the only basketball trace of his career comes into play. ‘student : he gets a sports scholarship at Winston-Salem State University (NCAA II). For the very personal anecdote that doesn’t have much to do in this paper, one of the writer’s former teammates now plays with the WSSU Rams. Not really a giga crack, but the talent to evolve in N2/N1 over time. It fixes your cursor a bit.

You know Clarence Gaines ? Legendary coach, Hall of Fame inductee, winner of an NCAA II title in ’67 with Earl “The Pearl” Monroe on his staff, the perfect punctuation of a season in… 31-1. Winston-Salem State University then becomes the first predominantly black school to win an NCAA title (just that of its own division was already a record). But his Hall of Famer profile does not only retain the basketball aspect: “College basketball may never find a more attentive, sensitive and dedicated coach than Clarence “Big House” Gaines”. It was only at the very end of the road that Stephen A. Smith crossed paths with the almost septuagenarian. The trainer is aging and his state of health worries his leader. “Coach, I’m scared. I won’t let you die on the sidelines.”. At the time, he even took advantage of his status as an editor in the university media The News Argus to push Clarence Gaines into retirement. An article published in 2017 in The Undefeated (today Andscape) digs deep into this story.

“Stephen A. Smith’s first big break at the newspaper came after he asked Gaines to retire. Increasingly concerned about Gaines’ state of health – Smith recalls the legendary coach suffering from minor strokes during games – he recalls confronting him in his office. He told her that if he didn’t retire, he would write an article suggesting that Gaines should retire. Gaines insulted Smith and fired him from the office. »

– William C. Rhoden of The Undefeated

It was during his own induction into the CIAA Hall of Fame in 2017 that Stephen A. Smith paid tribute to his former coach, died in 2005 from complications of a stroke. Despite his failed attempt to send « Big House » on retirement, the consultant remembers, with shining eyes, an intimate relationship in the purest of senses. “I will never call Clarence ‘Big House’ Gaines a friend. He was a father. He’s the closest thing to a father I’ve had. We were very close. I admired him, I revered him, I idolized him.. After calling for the retirement of his coach, student-player Stephen A. Smith found himself in the midst of a flurry of cronyism. You are attacking Genesio internally during his OL period, well, it’s the same result. Some faculty members and the school’s chancellor called for Smith to be expelled from the University, but – wacky scenario – it was Clarence Gaines who himself came to the defense of his student: “Leave Him Alone”. And yet, the fault of chronic tendonitis and a crack in the patella, Stephen A. Smith did not represent a great sporting asset for Winston-Salem State University. It was therefore not the protection of a coach, but that of a second daron.

“From what I’ve been told, he told the Chancellor and other people not to touch me. That I should not be disturbed” – Stephen A. Smith

It’s a feast at the Smiths: in 91, Stephen A. graduated from Winston-Salem State University in mass communication (while Clarence Gaines is still a coach and will not leave his post until 93). the « mortarboard » on the top of his head, Stephen A. Smith launched his career as a journalist in the local print media with his first freelancing for the Winston-Salem Journal – a logical continuation of the university – and the Greensboro News and Record, two periodicals that cover only a small part of the North of the State of North Carolina (a lot of North, be careful not to lose the North suddenly lol). He then took a huge step by writing for the New York Daily Newsbefore definitely committing to the NBA path in the columns of the Philadelphia Inquirer. That’s for the side scratch-scratch, and parallel to that in 2005, Stephen A. Smith launched into the radio. A very “cocooning” little program on the WEPN antenna, the second hour of which is broadcast on… ESPN Radio. Giga Boom on national air, but the show ended in April 2008 when Stephen A. Smith tried to focus on a television career.

And with the Philadelphia Inquirer, where are we? Too much outspokenness… too much, and political opinions on the margins of those claimed in Philly: Stephen A. Smith is asked to take the door of the store (of the writing what). This is where the personality of the man emerges, capable of publicly wishing for the dismissal of a legendary coach in office for 50 years, all because his personal convictions are worth much more to him than reason. According to his way of acting, he should not really make the difference between reason and the expression of his convictions. It is moreover this outspokenness that binds him in friendship with Allen Iverson, of whom one does not suspect any particular affection for journalists who are reserved, rigid, without waves. And in journalism, the network pays: in 2009, Stephen A. Smith announced the (short) retirement of Allen Iverson on Fox Sports Radio and via the publication of a press release on his blog: “ Jwould like to announce my intention to withdraw, even if II am convinced that I can still compete at the highest level”y écrit The Answer.

The teloche? This is where the Stephen A. Smith experience takes on a national/international dimension. His show Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith launched in 2005 expired two years later. Quiet, he was able to demonstrate his colorful personality there. He will finally go through all the sports programs of ESPN (not all but a package), will get confused during negotiations with the chain, will leave it, come back, then will popularize his character who is not really one. Section Embrace Debate of the show First Take is a success. She pits him against Skip Bayless, a longtime commentator and hater claimed from LeBron James, thus offering the most debates « PMU » of the Rican programming. We recommend the sequence from 2 minutes. Bayless claims that Kyrie Irving should have been MVP of the 2016 Finals. A candy.

object of « meme » therefore, but object of hope. In addition to this personality who is scandalized by nothing and can at any time, in full national antenna, submit the idea that women can themselves provoke the domestic violence of their husbands (comments which only earned him a week suspension by ESPN, which is to say its value for the channel), Stephen A. Smith claims to be living proof of the American dream.

“For the Jay-Zs, Lebrons, Shaqs, et cetera, I don’t see them as the American dream. I consider myself the American dream. They are America’s fantasy. There will be one in a trillion, if not more to become like them. But you can become Stephen. HAS. “

A human roller coaster this guy. At the end of 2019, Smith signed a contract with ESPN which would earn him around $8 million per year over five years. He later complained of being ” underpaid “ because of his skin color. “We are still black in this country. We don’t always trust this country in terms of meritocracy. We know that at the end of the day, just as women are underpaid compared to their male counterparts, black people are underpaid compared to their white counterparts”. An outing that caused a big mess given the consultant’s personal salary. A taulé quickly erased under cover of: “It’s okay, it’s Stephen A. Smith”. This is where its media power resides. Untouchable no matter what he says. He can get up in the morning and decide what he is going to say in the evening, whatever the link with basketball (most often there is none), and this in front of one of the biggest audiences in the American television. For instance ? A touching tribute to his deceased mother, before three days later showing up on the set of First Take disguised as a cowboy to explain how the Wild West is more East than West (there is no never said that but that’s the idea). Authentic character. Disturbing character. Controversial figure. TV character.

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