Stephen A. Smith is no stranger to controversy.
He has made a name for himself as one of the sports world’s most popular pundits by speaking directly and openly about the things he believes and the things he sees. On more than a few occasions, his direct manner has caused major waves and led to his suspension and forced apologies. However, his most recent controversial statement may be the most impactful he’s ever made … and it was all in defense of Donald J. Trump.
Smith was upset that so many black leaders were being hypocritical and divisive in the run-up to the presidential inauguration later this week.
When noted comedian and host of the hit show Family Feud Steve Harvey exited from a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump last week calling him “a great man” to say there was a backlash would be a gross understatement. The word ‘coon and ‘sellout’ was immediately thrown out.
His friend and contemporary D.L. Hughley wasn’t happy either, aiming his vitriol at Trump instead of Steve Harvey. And of course it provided the perfect excuse for naysayers to accuse sports greats like Jim Brown and Ray Lewis of being used as photo-ops weeks ago.
But on a day like today when we celebrate the birthdate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, along with his undeniable historical impact, perhaps it is time for all of us to see the big picture, to essentially pay more attention to the issues permeating our society, what it will take to resolve them, and connecting ourselves to who we can ultimately hold accountable rather than focusing on disdain for that very individual in a position to make a difference. Knowing that is not going to get us anywhere.
Has anyone thought about what impact it could have if Trump spoke to LeBron James? How about Steph Curry? How about Mike Tomlin, Tony Dungy, Chris Paul, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, or a host of conscientious sports figures connected to communities, committed to helping inner cities ascend from an abyss that has plagued us for decades. What then? Will they be sellouts, too, just for meeting with the man? For expressing their concerns? For articulating what ails these communities and providing ideas on how to resolve problems? The answer is no. At least for anyone with sense.
I applaud Smith for speaking out and can only hope others were listening. In fact, I can tell you the name of one individual who echoed Smith’s comments. And that was NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown, who was interviewed on Fox Business’s “Varney & Co.” In the segment, Brown reacted to Rep. John Lewis’s claim that Trump was not a “legitimate” president by emphasizing:
He won … fair and square, and I’m going to support him as president of the United States.