The anatopism that is the new Stephen A. Smith

About a year ago, I guess, Stephen A Smith left ESPN, where he had previously been a seemingly rising figure in the company and where he was  most identified with, and an almost constant and bombastic presence on, the channel’s NBA coverage.  His association with the NBA, in fact, was so clear and was so prevalent that in my mind he became the very embodiment of what was and is wrong with NBA analysis on television.  I disagreed with him on nearly every point, and he annoyed me about every time he opened his mouth.

Strangely then, when Stephen A Smith left ESPN he seemingly also abandoned his central role as an NBA commentator as well.  In fact, since he left the “Worldwide Leader”, the only NBA matter I can recall hearing his voice commenting on was that phony and  self serving Allen Iverson retirement announcement a few weeks back, and in that matter he really only played the role of Iverson’s mouthpiece stooge, not of national NBA commentator (of course, if you switch the name Iverson and replace it with any number of other NBA All-Star names, one could argue that was his role when he was a national NBA commentator, but I digress).

Now it seems Stephen A Smith, the man best known for his alleged NBA expertise, now specializes in commentary on… well, ANYTHING!  And you know what? As much as I’ve seen him in his new role as social commentator, still today everywhere and everytime I see him outside his old NBA realm — and as I insinuated, that is often — it still completely shocks my senses, you know what I mean?  Probably what it must have been like seeing Joe Garagiola hosting game shows.  Something completely out of its geography.  An anatopism.

Stephen A Smith… political expert??

But unlike Garagiola, Smith is now everywhere.  I’ve seen him on CNBC, commenting on stocks (yes, seriously!), I’ve seen him on Nancy Grace and other shows of that tawdry ilk, commenting on the Tiger Woods saga and also on various other “scandal of the moment” issues, I’ve seen him on MSNBC’s liberal political shows commenting on political and entertainment issues, I’ve seen him on several of Fox News conservative  political talk shows, sometimes offering comments from a generic “black perspective” but just as often offering general political commentary, and I’ve seen him doing the same all over CNN.

And this morning I woke up to see him on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe“, occupying a spot usually reserved for longtime political scribes, congressmen, members the elite New York media, or NBC political hacks, but there was Smith, going toe-to-toe with those like, offering his commentary on, get this, the impact the Health Care legislation will have on next year’s congressional elections (he thinks it will wipe the Democrats back into minority status, and even though I’ve been associated in the past with Democrats, I tend to strongly agree with him).  And I must note, shockingly, that not once in any of those aforementioned forums did Smith complain or even mention the name of “Vitaly Pot-a-penko… Vit-a-ly Pot-a-Penko!!”.

But I didn’t write this post to give you an update on Stephen.  My reason for writing is my stunned observations on his work.  Whereas I mentioned that I NEVER enjoyed his over-the-top, ass kissing, star worshiping, conventional wisdom mirroring, nonsense commentary on the NBA… here it comes, get ready… I find myself often enjoying, and just as often nodding my head in agreement with, a lot of the commentary and “takes” he offers on these seemingly “stranger-in-a-strange-land” forums.

In fact, I would say he brings a much needed “informed yet everyman” approach to his social commentary, something sorely lacking in today’s culture.

His opinions are usually measured, usually common sense driven, and usually on the money (as opposed to the annoying, unthoughtful, uninteresting, and uninformative, “I just got my copy of the party’s talking points” partisan bullshit you often hear on the type shows he’s been going on).  In short — though it still shocks my senses to see him in these different forums — I can admit that, yes, I now like listening to the guy!  I like listening to Stephen A Smith!!

It helps that he doesn’t yell anymore, but it also helps that he brings refreshing observations.  In fact this morning, I found myself actually imploring the other panelist on Morning Joe to “Shut up and let Stephen A. make his point”.  You would never have heard that out of my yap… EVER, or as  Stephen A. would say, “EVAH!”… when Smith was offering commentary on the NBA.  If anything I’d be yelling the opposite at the television… “Somebody kill A. Smith’s mike!”

That’s just strange, but I’m happy for the guy, and impressed with the versatility I did not know he possessed, and the preparation he brings to his different assignments.

With all that said, once in a great while we will still, oh yes, see snippets of the “Old Stephen A.” that we all knew and frequently hated.

Get this one.  I think Smith was recently on that ridiculous Joy Behar Show (that’s that woman from The View, now she’s an even worse version of Larry King), offering commentary on the Tiger Woods Fiasco, when I heard this vintage old school Stephen A Smith commentary (this is reconstructed from memory, so not necessarily accurate to the letter, but accurate to the point):

Behar: “Stephen A Smith, with all the trouble and  damage you can do to your life, and Tiger has in fact done to his life, why is it do you think that Tiger and other men insist on cheating?”

Smith:  “Bec-awse, quite simply, we are men.  When we see something of a voluptuous or a curvaceous nature WE COVET THAT THING… WE MUST HAVE IT… and we will do anything to pahsue it and to get it.  And let me assure you, we will always covet these shapely objects, FAH-EVER… BECAUSE WE ARE MEN!  Do you understand what I am conveying to you?  I am telling you ‘do not try to change us it is in our nature” (emphasis was his cadence)

Thanks for that reasoned representation of the male gender.  Yeah, and it went over so well (“OH, COME ON!!” was what the other female panelist screamed).

But other than that retro hiccup, I… QUITE FRANKLY… and QUITE SHOCKINGLY… now enjoy Smith’s commentary when I hear it.

And I never thought I’d EVAH… EVAHHHH… utter that one… y’all.

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6 Responses to “The anatopism that is the new Stephen A. Smith”

  1. Blake Says:

    LOL funny post! I saw him on CNN a few weeks ago and had to look twice to make sure if it was really Stephen. I didn’t know what to make of it but apparently he is doing good (for the most part) in his new situation.

    Merry Christmas!

    • tywill33 Says:

      Blake,

      Your right to add that “for the most part”. (SIDEBAR: It reminds me of Brad Childress’ comment about why he wanted to remove Favre. He explained that Favre was taking a beating through “not a lot” of fault of his own… did you notice how he subtley twisted a cliche to sneak a rip in on Favre? I laughed about that for days.)

      Anyways, I should have emphasized that more. He is by no means a sage. I just meant to say he was shockingly better than he was when he yelled about the NBA.

      BTW, read my other comment for my (even more rambling) theory why I think he is better commenting on other areas than he was commenting on the NBA.

  2. D Says:

    How about the officiating in that Cavs-Lakers game today?

  3. Jerry Bridgman Says:

    Possible explanation why you hated his commentary on the NBA but are good with him on everything else: You know the NBA! 😉

    • tywill33 Says:

      I hear you… but, I can’t agree. I get educated, and am open to an education, the wrongheadedness of my “NBA knowledge” everyday… but he never provided it. When it comes to basketball, or most anything I try to live by the saying: “The fool thinks he is a wise man, the wise man knows he is a fool”

      The reason Stephen A is better in the other forums, I think, is this. He had too many relationships in the NBA. He couldn’t offend this superstar or that one, or he would get a nasty text message (in fact, IN FACT, do a “google” search and you will find that Smith criticized Charlotte’s move and caught heat from Michael Jordan and someone else, and HE RETRACTED HIS COMMENT!! I know it happened, I just can’t remember when or what the comment was.)

      Anyway, in the other realms, he comes across as a guy who just read the paper and is giving an honest assessment… he has no dog in any of these other arenas, as far as I can tell, whereas paradoxically… almost everyone else in those arenas has the same problem Stephen A. had when he commented on the NBA.

      One last kind of unrelated point: You ever notice how the NFL has much better “experts” than the NBA? I mean, Tony Dungy and Steve Young and even Jerome Bettis fascinate me every week, whereas Jalen Rose and (who’s that small forward from Kentucky) they are just enamored with schoolyard abilities. I frankly think very few NBA players understand why it is they were effective basketball players.

      Sorry for the rambling nature… I’m reading Bill Simmons book and I think its rubbing off (the motherfucker has endnotes on EVERY PAGE OF HIS PROLOGUE!!! Who puts endnotes in a prologue???????? This sucker is going to take me four years or four thousand shits to read).

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