Stephen A. Smith
Tallahassee Democrat

Stephen A. Smith has had enough of Leon Rose’s hiding act.

The ESPN First Take host blasted the Knicks president for his refusal to speak to the media during Tuesday’s program while discussing RJ Barrett’s new contract extension. Smith even went as far as to suggest he is entering the “disaster” territory that ex-Knicks front office boss Scott Layden found himself in years ago.

“I’m just disgusted with Leon Rose,” Smith said. “The man I know Leon Rose to be, somebody that I’m incredibly fond of as a human being, I think it’s real soft the way he is running the Knicks right now. He’s scared of the media. You’ve got to be a face of the franchise.

“You cannot be the face of the Knicks’ franchise, the leader of the Knicks’ franchise, and be scared to do interviews. It’s so pathetic for Leon Rose. … He doesn’t embrace accountability from a public perspective.”

Smith’s take will likely be panned by a Knicks fanbase that has become conditioned to blame the media at all times and deludes itself into thinking Rose’s propaganda hour MSG interviews with Mike Breen and word salad statements are good enough. But Smith is dead-on here.

Rose’s inability to take questions and communicate his vision for the Knicks is embarrassing. He runs a team in New York City. He needs to act like it and fulfill the duties of his job, one of the big ones being media relations. Moreover, it is inexplicable that NBA commissioner Adam Silver allows such nonsense to occur. The Knicks are a flagship franchise. They don’t get to hide behind a state media apparatus.

The strangest thing of it all — as Smith pointed out — is that Rose appears to be doing a solid job. The Jalen Brunson signing, the Barrett extension, the draft capital, the Donovan Mitchell pursuit — these are all good things the Knicks can sell as growth. At the very least, their loyal fans deserve to know what Rose is thinking as he rebuilds the team.

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James Kratch can be reached at

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.