Stephen A. Smith’s overreaction to one Brooklyn Nets loss isn’t surprising
This business — sports media — is about attracting attention. Whether it’s as a writer, podcaster, television personality, or all of the above, grabbing viewers/readers/etc. is key to surviving.
Stephen A. Smith is surviving all right — he’s a glutton for hot takes. To be honest, he’s the absolute best at it and his funniest bits give me bit of a soft spot for his antics. But for every “Kwame Brown?” or “Stay off the weeeeeeeeed!” moment, there are 100s of takes like this:
"Kevin Durant, I'm sad for you bro. … You have no help. And more importantly than anything else, you made the wrong decision by going to Brooklyn. … KYRIE IRVING BETRAYED YOU!"@stephenasmith LOST IT ?? pic.twitter.com/gjw5tAZVcO
— First Take (@FirstTake) November 17, 2021
First things first, he has a point about Brooklyn’s fanbase. There are diehard Nets fans out there, but not enough to consistently fill the Barclays Center. Maybe they are still in New Jersey and don’t feel like paying the tolls. Either way, the Nets don’t have much of a homecourt advantage.
But let’s talk about what Smith gets wrong.
Although part of me hates giving any attention to ridiculous overreactions and hot takes like this, it’s kind of like ordering from Amazon. I don’t love doing it, but Jeff Bezos isn’t taking a hit just because I stop ordering socks off of his online bookstore. Similarly, Stephen A. Smith won’t stop the nonsense just because I’m ignoring him.
And thus, it’s time to respond to this boiling hot take because that’s exactly what this is — a hot take intended to attract eyeballs and attention to his show. That’s why ESPN pays him the big bucks — emphasis on “big” and “bucks.”
This was a regular-season game in November.
To be clear, the game itself wasn’t pretty. Steph Curry cruised to 37 points as MVP chants rained down in the Barclays Center. Yes, those MVP chants were for Curry and not Kevin Durant. The lack of any legitimate homecourt advantage in Brooklyn is another story unto itself.
The Nets didn’t look the part of a championship contender, but last we checked, no NBA champion was ever undefeated in the regular season.
Smith has a valid point about the Nets losing badly. All five of their losses this season have come by double digits and a few of those were on national television. Every Nets loss is going to feel like it’s bigger than it really is, but that comes with the territory of being one of the highest-profile teams in the NBA.
Not too long ago, the Nets were a toe away from beating the Milwaukee Bucks and potentially riding that momentum to an NBA Finals. Now, the hot-takers of the world are writing them off as a pretender. Folks like Stephen A. are saying that Kevin Durant will “rue the day” he signed with the Nets.
Everyone loves to overreact.
That’s not to say that everything is sunshine and rainbows in Brooklyn. Kyrie Irving is still a no-show. James Harden is either working his way back into shape following a hamstring injury or he’s going to be this lesser version of himself going forward. The supporting cast also needs to be more consistent.
Again, it’s not beautiful, but the Nets are 11-5 with a lot of time to work out the kinks. Everyone needs to R-E-L-A-X.
Sidenote: Stephen A. Smith insinuated that Harden was bad for the Nets last year as well. That’s just flat-out untrue. He was putting up MVP numbers before injuries slowed him down. But when you are spewing nonsense, facts are unimportant.