Quite frankly, Stephen A. is tired of being right...
No one has managed to stay further out in front of the NBA free agent feeding frenzy than Stephen A. Smith. If LeBron James actually ends up announcing a decision to go to the Miami Heat on Thursday night, Smith will receive much credit from those willing to give it to the often abrasive media personality.
At the same time, Smith apparently has grown weary of critics who felt he jumped the gun with his emphatic announcement of the LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade trio to Miami two weeks ago. At the time, he spoke as though the ink was drying on contracts when, in fact, the situation was still very much a fluid one. Sure enough, his own reporting later confirmed suspicions that the "done deal" wasn't nearly as concrete as he had originally let on.
More on that in a second, but first here's Stephen A. Smith offering up a minor meltdown regarding his treatment from fellow media members on the "Hartman and Friends" radio show in Los Angeles.
"It's pretty much getting on my damn nerves. I gotta admit it.
Anybody worth their salt knowing anything about reporting knows exactly what I did.
I said LeBron James is going to Miami. I was very, very emphatic about that. I know that. I also came back on the air and said you know something? If I'm wrong, I'm wrong because Chris Bosh has changed the entire game. We're talking about free agency. We're talking about tens of millions of dollars on the table and we're talking about guys that are relative kids because they've never been assigned to be actual men because they've been playing a game and making millions of dollars.
People are entitled to change their mind. It gets a monkey wrench thrown into the game plan. All I did was give you a play by play. At the time that I reported it, that's what was going on. Chris Bosh did what he did on Friday. I came back on, I reported that. Then he switched gears and went back to Miami. I reported that before everybody reported it. I said he was going to Miami. I said to everybody D-Wade wasn't going to sign in Chicago because he doesn't want to be there with his ex-wife who he's been in a tumultuous divorce situation with. I said that emphatically.
My sources have told me from Day One, LeBron James is going to South Beach. I reported it. I put my neck out there and I also said that if I'm wrong, I will not be hard to find.
If I'm wrong, that's what men do. We man up. We show up. What we don't expect is people, your contemporaries, people in the business, certainly the public at large can sit there and moan and whine and what have you. But people who are in this business. Who know how this business works. Who had sources and things of that nature, should be ashamed of their damn selves for even trying to call me out because that's not how this works. And oh, by the way, I'm 4 for 4. I said Amare Stoudemire was going to New York. What happened? He went to New York. I reported that a year and a half ago. I said Chris Bosh was going to Miami. He did it. I said D-Wade was going to re-sign in South Beach. He did it. When Chris Bosh backed out, I reported that too and everybody else followed. What the hell have I been wrong about? Not a single damn thing. Not yet."
What shouldn't be doubted are the NBA sources Smith has developed over more than a decade of professional basketball reporting. What can rightfully be questioned is the emphatic nature in which he originally reported the story two weeks ago. You can compare it to reporting on college football or basketball recruiting. I can't tell you how many times I've been on the phone with a high school recruit over the years who has made up his mind to attend a particular school, only to back out of the decision at some point before National Signing Day.
The same holds true for James who appears to be living out that experience 7 years after the fact. James could have very well been dead set on Miami at the time of Smith's reporting two weeks ago. But with such a large window of time remaining before action would be taken on such a decision, the long time print reporter also knew that a multitude of factors could change the equation.
That is where the bulk of the criticism from informed media observers is coming from. You can read his thoughts when it looked like his original pronouncement would not come to fruition at his blog.
Credit him for the reporting work and for having the sources, but the most accurate account of the situation from the beginning would have included a caveat about the delicate and fluid nature of such matters.
On a side note, I'd love to sing along with the chorus and say I'm tired of talking about LeBron James but what exactly is it keeping us from focusing on in the sports world right now?
Cue the chirping crickets...
...and the Stephen A. Smith sock puppet.