Ten years ago, Stephen A. Smith was an NBA writer/general columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer. Then he took his act to ESPN, where he was given a TV show. One might say the show was favorable to athletes. He was given a radio show as a platform, too. Then ESPN began to fade out the screaming, Booyah! era (definitely dead now), and Smith’s star began to diminish. A career shift was necessary.How can you be a member of the sports media and get handsomely paid? Work for ESPN and combine the .com, TV, and radio platforms. With that window closed, sports media was seemingly out. At some point in 2008, Smith saw an opening: Social commentary. Barack Obama was on his way to becoming president, and Smith could transform himself into a go-to African-American pundit for MSNBC, Fox News and CNN.
Yesterday, Stephen A. Smith started a second radio career … on Fox Sports. To nudge the show along – he replaced the much-loved Steve Czaban – he posted this inflammatory column ripping Gilbert Arenas for his gun incident in DC.
As much as I’ve tried to disagree with my friend and noted contemporary, Jason Whitlock, who’s repeatedly and vociferously lamented the state of affairs within the Black Community — specifically as it pertains to the negative parts of Hip Hop and its influence on Black culture — it simply cannot be denied any longer.
That would make sense … if Whitlock hadn’t thought the exact opposite, in a column a day earlier.
I spent Friday and Saturday contemplating the significance of an NBA All-Star (Arenas) getting in a six-shooter showdown with a teammate. It would be easy for me, a longtime critic of the gangsta, hip-hop culture seemingly embraced by NBA players, to blast the Arenas-Crittenton dispute as another example of hip hop’s negative influence on basketball culture.
But this doesn’t feel like that. Yeah, I’d probably feel different if shots had been fired. I might feel different if someone other than Arenas had been involved. For lack of a better description, Arenas is eccentric, a real loon. He channels Dennis Rodman far more than 50 Cent.
So Smith is on Fox Radio and writing for Fox Sports.com. And he clearly seems to be making a play for the same niche that Whitlock has been pontificating about for the better part of a decade. Is there room at Fox for both of them?
Stephen A. Smith Begins 2010, Fox Tenure By Channeling Big Sexy (CSTB)