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Stephen A. Smith’s Rant Obscures Kevin Durant’s Real Point

Stephen A. Smith threw a temper tantrum on the ESPN 2 show, First Take this morning, apparently kerfuffled that Kevin Durant accused him of “lying” about  where the Oklahoma City star was in his consideration of where to play next year.

The issue started last week when Smith alleged that Durant was planning on going to the Lakers. Anthony Slater, the Thunder beat writer for the Oklahoman inquired of Durant about the rumors and Durant’s response was, shall we say, direct?


Then Smith responded on Friday via TwitLonger:

Regarding @KDTrey5 and his negative comments about me, let me say this: At NO time did I ever say I SPOKE to K.D. Or his family. Or his brother, friends, teammates, etc. (although I can assure you all I have on several occasions in the past). I said I HEARD from folks I know — in a league I’ve been covering for 19 years — that if he were to leave OKC as a free agent, these are the cities I was told he was considering. OKC. LA. Miami. DC. NY. I stand by it all. And that is that.

His assertion that I was lying is not only FALSE, but totally uncalled for. Especially from a player who receives nothing but praise not only from me, but from practically every media member you can find. Yet, for some reason, we’re all the same folks who don’t know *&%$ about the game of basketball. Whose thoughts he could give a &^%$ about. Essentially, individuals he wishes he’d never have to talk to…..that he’s being forced to tolerate…..as if someone has done something to him…..OF ALL PEOPLE!

Don’t know what has happened to Mr. Durant over the years. But I know this much: We all win with his return, because he is an absolute superstar. The NBA is better with him. We’re all at a loss without him.

It just appears that @KDTrey5 needs to learn something about today’s world in professional sports:

We don’t have to talk TO HIM to talk ABOUT HIM!

Folks like ME will still be here. Watching! Listening! Waiting! Reporting!

Whether he likes it or not. While he’s here and long after he’s gone.

Time to get use to it.

Silly Durant, why do you think you have a say in what’s happening in your own mind?

Then Smith went on First Take today it reiterate that argument ad nauseum. Here’s a portion of the rant, transcribed by Kyle Koster of the Big Lead.

I said if OKC, if Kevin Durant decides to leave OKC, I’m hearing that L.A. is a prime spot that he is considering. Not to say he’s not considering D.C., Miami, New York or whatever … that’s what I heard. I’m not lying. If I were wrong Kevin Durant would have signed his extension with OKC. Okay? You being represented by Roc Nation, I know these boys. They’re not small-timers. They don’t want Kevin Durant just because of his name, they want him because this brother’s going to do big things and they’re going to see to it that he’s going to do big things. Are you trying to tell me these large markets are not a consideration? I said nothing offensive about him. I will not say anything offensive about him.

I still stand here today telling you: he’s a good dude, but he’s wrong. And the guys that put it up to him — put him up to it — in their own way — I’m not talking about literally his comments but in their own way with their chirping behind my back all the time, they’re wrong too. And the sensitivity that these guys are showing, they are making unnecessary enemies. I am not one of them. I won’t be. I’ve got too much love and respect for who these guys are and what they mean to my community.

Let’s break this down into chunks. In all his ranting and defensiveness, Smith is missing the biggest point of all. He says, “That’s what I heard. I’m not lying. If you want to get inot a semantic distinction between the meaning “lying” and “telling the truth,” the literal meanings of the words may vindicate him.But there is a larger issue here. Smith, in reporting what his “sources” say can’t now just divorce himself from those sources. By reporting them, he attaches his name to the story and attaches his credibility to their authenticity. That’s the way the game is played.

It’s a disingenuous argument to  now  say, “I’m just reporting what they told me; I’m not lying.” If you’re passing on a lie, is it really any better?

Smith then uses a loaded question to defend his argument, rhetorically asking:

If I were wrong Kevin Durant would have signed his extension with OKC?” That’s a preposterous argument. Did Marc Gasol extend with the Grizzlies this year during the offseason? Did he even talk to any other teams? Durant’s failure to sign an extension yet is meaningless.

But this also indicates a major factor missing from Smith’s sense of culpability here. Now he’s not just arguing with what Durant about what he may or may not have heard; he’s arguing with Durant about what Durant actually thinks and feels.

This is not up for debate.

He even goes so far as to say, “I still stand here today telling you: he’s a good dude, but he’s wrong.” Can you believe it? He’s literally arguing with Durant about what Durant thinks and feels. Pardon me for stating the obvious, but shouldn’t Durant be the final arbiter in things related to the interior workings of Durant?

Then the final irony,

And the sensitivity that these guys are showing, they are making unnecessary enemies.” Imagine! Durant is the one being “sensitive.” He answered one reporter’s questions about what another reporter erroneously reported about him, so he’s being sensitive.

Meanwhile, we’re supposed to accept that the mistaken reporter who prattles on for a 20-minute discourse because someone dared question the accuracy of his wrong report isn’t sensitive?

Smith then seals his argument with a statement that is utterly preposterous, personal and way  over the top, threatening Durant:

But I will say this lastly: you don’t want to make an enemy out of me. And I’m looking right into the camera and I’m going to say it again. You do not want to make an enemy out of me. I’m not having it. I’ve done nothing wrong and I’m not going to tolerate it.

Somehow, Smith has made this a story about himself, which is something journalists are supposed to avoid. And he’s managed to make himself some sort of victim in the process, even while ostensibly threatening the person who dared question his credibility.

Don’t worry. It’s not over. Smith promised more response on his radio show as the “blogosphere” is now at fault.

Smith apparently can do no wrong. But everyone else can.

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