Thursday was a huge news day in the sports world, between C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols signing with the L.A. Angels in the morning and then the Chris Paul trade debacle breaking at night. Lost in the shuffle was ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith calling LeBron James the n word on First Take.
During a tired argument over whether LeBron could win a championship on his own, Stephen A. Smith slid the argument truck straight into fifth gear and forgot to tap the breaks before plunging off the cliff.
“He is too supremely talented. He may be the best talent in the world. You know what? You just got to get that heart man! Stop walking around like the Tin Man syndrome,” Smith said as co-host Skip Bayless looked on. “I mean what is wrong with you!? This N*gga. Come on man. He got it in him. Just peel it out. Suck it up. Wear the black hat.”
Judge for yourself, it’s definitely hard to hear at first:
“Smith’s points sans yelling, sans possible N Word was a valid one. I know that is his thing, but I think a lot of his points get lost in the yelling,” writes Robert Littal, of Black Sports Online. “I don’t know if Stephen A. will comment on this, if he did say it, he should apologize no need for that type of language.”
No, not really. More than anything it just sounds like a slip of the tongue. Part of the problem for Stephen A. is he’s too emotional. Every time he appears on TV, the audience has to fear watching him have an aneurysm on live TV. Not every segment has to be dialed up to 11 with spittle flying to and fro.
Stephen A. is better than that. Black or white, slip of tongue or not, TV personalities can’t just be dropping the N-Bomb like it’s no big thing. It’s disrespectful to LeBron, but also to all those who fought for civil rights and equality to not be referred to such a vile term.