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Stephen A. Smith is a courageous journalist

Mar 14, 2010, 11:15 AM EDT

stephen-a-smith.jpgEVERYTHING HE WRITES (about himself) IS IMPORTANT!
Stephen A. Smith has gone on the defensive in response to the controversy resulting from a column he wrote earlier this week lambasting Allen Iverson for his alleged gambling and drinking problems. In a column published today in The Philadelphia Inquirer, “The backlash from the Iverson report,” Smith steadfastly asserts that he wrote what needed to be written about Iverson, even if had to go it alone and bravely face harsh criticism to do so.

The original column, published March 7th, harshly criticized Iverson’s inner circle for enabling the player’s supposed erratic behavior when it comes to drinking and gambling, and how no good can come of it.

Allen Iverson is in trouble, folks, deep trouble. The combination of alcohol and gambling – and a once-promising career in tatters because of the first two – won’t culminate in anything short of disaster if help does not arrive in short order.

If numerous NBA sources are telling the truth – and there’s no reason to believe they’d do otherwise in a situation of this magnitude – Iverson will either drink himself into oblivion or gamble his life away.

Harsh words, indeed. Smith has never been afraid of being critical of Iverson, but he is also known to be one of the mercurial star’s most vocal defenders.
Nevertheless, the diatribe was not taken lightly by Iverson’s 76ers teammates. In an ESPN Insider story, something called “NBA Player X” discussed how some players cannot wait to let Smith know how they feel about what he wrote.
From You Been Blinded:

Guys around the league are pissed at Stephen A. Smith right now for his most recent column on Allen Iverson, the one in which he claimed Allen is going to drink and/or gamble his life away. One of my NBA friends in Philly says a bunch of Sixers can’t wait for Stephen A. to show up in their locker room so they can have words with him.

Oof. Faced with what he feels is unfair criticism and undue ostracism, Smith writes about the courage it took to write his most recent column, and how he is now the Man Who Walks Alone, unlike when others “closest to him sat around, watched, and did virtually nothing.”
Smith’s so-called mea culpa:

It’s been a difficult week, folks! I’ll just put it out there. After revealing what’s been heard for years about Iverson’s drinking and penchant for the casinos, I’ve received the kind of beatdown only Joe Frazier can relate to from the pummeling he suffered against George Foreman decades ago.

I’ve been vilified and excoriated, called a turncoat and a sellout, unworthy of so much as a handshake from several members of Iverson’s former team, the 76ers – the last people in need of more adversaries.

Poor, poor man – but headstrong. He goes on:

The thing is, if I’m honest enough to express these feelings about Iverson, to stand up and say none of us who care should sit idly by and act as if the combination of Iverson’s history in the fast lane and his present family issues will be healed by silence, where are his so-called friends, the ones with the all-is-well expressions while knowing there’s mounting evidence to the contrary?

Saying what needed to be said is something I don’t regret. The truth hurts sometimes, particularly when it involves someone at a low point in their life. Electing to stand alone, however, while a bevy of individuals – former teammates, locker room personnel, team executives, hangers-on, and his business manager – stand around in silence was perhaps the most questionable decision of all.

Does Smith deserve to be vilified and condemned so viciously for what he wrote? Maybe. Maybe not. Did he need to give himself a journalistic pat-on-the-back for his courage and willingness to stand up when others chose not to do so? Absolutely not.
But one thing about Stephen A. Smith, he never shies away from the spotlight, as illustrated by his tweet from the Super Bowl last month to his cameo appearance on General Hospital in 2007; nor is he afraid to stir the pot when he sees fit, as when he referred to Tiger Woods as a “punk” after Tiger’s press conference.
But buck up, SAS. This too shall pass. If I were him, I would crack open a nice, fresh bag of Cheez-Doodles&#174 and wait this one out.
Iverson needs more than a prayer [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
The backlash from Iverson report [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
76ers Would Like a Word with Stephen A. Over his Cheesy Doodling [You Been Blinded]
NBA Player X: Lay off Iverson [ESPN Insider]
Stephen A. Smith is the most important person at the Super Bowl! [Out of Bounds]
Stephen A. Smith calls Tiger Woods ‘a punk who cowered from the real issue’ [Out of Bounds]
That Other Guy… He Wasn’t Even Acting [Deadspin]
Heckling Stephen A. Without Mercy [Deadspin]

  1. Michael Bishop - Mar 24, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    I use to have alot more respect for Steven A. Smith. But not anymore. I don’t care what his explanation is for his comments on A.I. being a so called ‘friend’ he should have kept that to himself. Steven A. threw Iverson under the bus just to get a big story out to please his editors. I don’t blame Iverson’s team mates in Philly for not shaking SAS hand or even acknowledging him. My only question is if he knew about A.I.’s long time pattern of drinking and gambling, why come out with the news NOW. The timing was bad to say the least.