Last week, Philadelphia 76ers point guard Michael Carter-Williams posted an essay on the Players Tribune about his thoughts on the team’s supposed tanking, and it included a brief passage about ESPN analyst and First Take panelist Stephen A. Smith:
We knew it was going to be a circus when ESPN flew in Stephen A. Smith to Philadelphia for the 27th game against Detroit. In the locker room before shootaround, we got swarmed by reporters. You could barely move around the room. Somebody actually asked, “So how does it feel to be a part of the most losing team in NBA history?” Which was really funny because we hadn’t even played the game yet. Everybody just expected us to lose and set the record.
The media creates this narrative and repeats it over and over. That’s how Stephen A. Smith ends up in our locker room with a big smile on his face. I’m not picking on him. I know he’s playing a character. He knows he’s playing a character. But what happens when we break the streak by going out and beating Detroit that night? Now it’s another story. After the game, a lot of the reporters didn’t even stick around. The ones that did weren’t prepared. They didn’t ask us about the specifics of the game. They made up questions on the spot, like, “Uh, hey, you guys won … so how do you feel?”
We weren’t the story anymore. They were on to the next thing. Stephen A. didn’t really stick around. I guess he had a plane to catch. Believe me, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure he doesn’t come back for the same reason.
Smith wasn’t pleased by these comments, and took exception in a Monday radio interview. Via CSN Philly:
“You’re never going to have the last word over us,” Smith said. “And you damn sure ain’t going to have the last word over me. I’m not going to start problems, but I can damn sure finish them. If these guys want to come at me, let them do it at their own peril. It will be a mistake.”
Carter-Williams was asked about the comments at Sixers shootaround on Monday, and downplayed them:
“I am just really focused on my teammates and trying to get a win,” he said. “That is where my focus needs to be; my teammates deserve that, and my coaches deserve that. I am just going to keep pushing every day in practice with the guys. That outside distraction stuff doesn’t mean much to me.”
When specifically asked if had seen or heard Smith’s comments, Carter-Williams said, “I came across it because people told me about them. I have seen things on Twitter, but again, none of that fazes me too much.”
This whole “feud” doesn’t make a lot of sense. Carter-Williams’ initial comments about Smith were pretty harmless, and I doubt even Smith would disagree with the notion that his bombastic on-air personality is a character to some degree. That he felt the need to respond to it in the first place is just bizarre.
Carter-Williams doesn’t have a lot to gain by going back and forth, so he took the smarter path and basically said, “no comment.”