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  #1  
Old 07-31-05, 03:43 PM
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Stephen A Smith subject of NYTimes article



http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/31/ar...on/31sand.html
ESPN's New Master of the Offensive Foul


By RICHARD SANDOMIR
Published: July 31, 2005
IF you're a sports fan - more specifically, a basketball fan - you may already find it hard to avoid Stephen A. Smith. He is the emerging face of hoops talk at ESPN, a fierce, confident, at times bombastic presence whose brash, clamorous style not only punctuates his reporting and analysis but sometimes eclipses them.

In less than two years at the sports media empire, the lean, goateed Mr. Smith has become one of its best-known personalities, and arguably its most renowned African-American. He may not be as well known as ESPN lifers like Chris Berman, Dick Vitale or Dan Patrick, but he makes more noise, issuing emotional, emphatic riffs about coaches, players and owners. So much noise, in fact, that he has earned the nickname Screamin' A. Smith.

"I have opinions that are based on the facts that are presented to me," he said over pancakes and eggs that he barely ate in a Midtown hotel, as his cellphone occasionally rang. "I don't apologize. I stand by it. If I'm hated, so what? If I'm loved, so what?"

That cheeky attitude has already earned Mr. Smith regular spots on "SportsCenter," an analyst's seat on three N.B.A. programs, appearances on ESPN2's "Cold Pizza" and a daily ESPN Radio program. And now, Mr. Smith's posture has prompted ESPN to make him the star of a nightly one-hour talk show on ESPN2, "Quite Frankly" (named for one of his often-repeated phrases), which makes its debut tonight at 6:30.

In Mr. Smith, who is 37 and continues to write a twice-weekly column (sometimes on his BlackBerry from an ESPN studio) for The Philadelphia Inquirer, ESPN believes it has a franchise. "Stephen A. is ringing a bell," said Mark Shapiro, an executive vice president of ESPN. "People like him and dislike him, but they still watch him. These days, it's hard to find a talent who strikes a chord that way. Polarization is a commodity." He added: "We're in the hit-making business. And Stephen A. is a game-changer."

Mr. Smith's polarizing personality was nurtured by his parents and four older sisters in the same house in Hollis, Queens, where he still stops by for dinner two or three times a week. He calls himself a "mama's boy," but says his West Indian mother constantly stressed that he be right, even righteous.

Mr. Smith tested that advice at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, where he played a bit for the great basketball coach Clarence (Big House) Gaines - and then boldly suggested in an article in the school newspaper that Mr. Gaines retire because of health problems. By 1993, Mr. Smith was writing about sports for The Daily News. Six years later, when he started his television career at the now-defunct cable network CNN/SI, he seemed to intuitively grasp what all panelists on sports and political shows know: that the loudest, the most argumentative, even the rudest voice will get the most attention.

Like most studio analysts, Mr. Smith delivers his opinions with an air of absolute certainty. If he is ever wrong, he said, it's because sources have lied to him. "Unless you're a fly on the wall, you're only as good as your sources," he said.

He is also prone to effusively proclaiming his approval of the players he favors. Discussing the Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett on the air recently, he said, "Here's what it comes down to: Nobody loves the boy more than I do. I love K. G.!"

All of this has made Mr. Smith the commentator some fellow sportswriters - as well as TV critics and coaches - love to hate. A writer for The Allentown Morning Call argued that Mr. Smith's report about the prospective departure of Larry Brown as coach of the Detroit Pistons deserved "a grade of C because he said nothing while acting like he knew everything." Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, has called him an entertainer, not a journalist. And two New York Post columnists, Peter Vecsey, a former NBC and TNT basketball analyst, and Phil Mushnick, have assailed him several times. Mr. Vecsey, who regularly flays Mr. Smith's stories, called him a "multi-media fraud."

Some of the complaints about Mr. Smith have to do with race. Mr. Mushnick said in a phone interview that Mr. Smith "speaks in two voices" to appeal to ESPN's different but overlapping audiences: one that is straightforward and another than appeals specifically to "urban street blacks or white street wannabes."

Mr. Smith does not deny that race figures prominently in his persona, or that growing up among rappers subtly influenced his idiosyncratic vocal cadences. But unlike Stuart Scott, another well-known black ESPN announcer, Mr. Smith rarely uses hip-hop terminology.

"I realize there is a paucity of African-Americans in my position," Mr. Smith said. "Everywhere I go, people say, 'Don't mess this up, don't forget about us.' You feel a tremendous responsibility, not to take the black side of things, but to make sure that side gets heard, because if I don't do it, who's going to do it?"

Mr. Smith isn't afraid to talk about race in heated terms on the air. In an intense debate last April over comments by Jermaine O'Neal - a black star with the Pacers who came into the league from high school - that race might be behind the N.B.A.'s since-enacted plan to raise its age requirement, Mr. Smith interrupted and snapped at Greg Anthony, another basketball analyst.

Mr. Anthony argued against the age limit and defended Mr. O'Neal's right to speak out, but Mr. Smith said the player should not have raised race, invoking the legendary football player Jim Brown's feelings on the matter. "I don't care what Jim Brown says," Mr. Anthony said.

"Wait a minute, you need to care about the pioneers who paved the way for people like you and me to be in the position that we're in!" Mr. Smith said, his voice rising, his hands gesticulating vigorously. "You damn well better care about those who paved the way for you to be in the position to benefit the way we've benefited!"

In an interview, Mr. Anthony said he enjoyed the confrontation. "I'm happy he does it, because I'm a contrarian and I like to argue," he said.

For his part, Mr. Smith said his only regret was what he called an unintentional depiction of two black men who respect each other apparently close to trading punches. "If you were in the black community, you almost cringed watching it," he said.

Indeed, Mr. Smith knows that he has detractors of many colors, who would like to see him to fall from his increasingly lucrative and celebrated perch. "You have haters from all walks of life," he said. "I could care less who wants me to fail. They inspire me." To watch Mr. Smith on a program like "NBA Shootaround," which precedes ESPN's basketball games, is to grasp his appeal to the network. His loud voice and sharply drawn opinions rouse the lively panel, which consists of an urbane host, John Saunders, and the less noisy analysts Tim Legler and Mr. Anthony, both former players. Mr. Smith's silent reactions are animated; even when he's not speaking, ESPN keeps a camera on him.

Indeed, perhaps the most riveting part of almost any studio session with Mr. Smith is watching him not speak. He clearly suffers from the pain of anticipation. He sits in his custom-made suit, trying not to fidget as Mr. Saunders hands the verbal ball to Mr. Legler or Mr. Anthony. Mr. Smith stares through each speaker, a ticked-off, silent, impatient predator seeking his moment. Rage - or is it fervent hope? - seems to paint his stern face. When his time comes, his expression alters. He is relieved but energized, spitting out his words at high decibels.

"I'm struggling," Mr. Smith agreed. "I'm struggling with the reality that I feel differently, that I have a minimal amount of time to express what I want to say. Somebody is saying something I don't agree with and I have 45 seconds. I'm like, 'Damn it, can I fit it all in?' "

But will the same approach work once Mr. Smith is the star of his own show, and not simply punctuating others? As he prepared for the launch of "Quite Frankly," Mr. Shapiro was coaxing Mr. Smith to show his lighter side.

"It won't work if he goes for 60 minutes the way he goes for four minutes on 'SportsCenter,' " Mr. Shapiro said. "He has to switch gears, which he hasn't learned to do."
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  #2  
Old 07-31-05, 03:48 PM
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Bnw posted an article!
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Old 07-31-05, 03:54 PM
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Sports Illustrated (the yellow one with Lance on the cover) has a better article. You can hate his opinions but the man is ratings galore
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Old 07-31-05, 03:57 PM
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SAS is a waste of air space. I wouldnt waste any minutes of my life watching that crap

Im sure there is a handful of people that may like this guy or watch this nonsense (RichB )
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  #5  
Old 07-31-05, 04:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoupIsGood
Bnw posted an article!
Not about the Spurs, though.
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  #6  
Old 07-31-05, 04:02 PM
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The dumbing down of America...
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  #7  
Old 07-31-05, 04:16 PM
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SAS is a noisy boob. It says alot about the audience (and very little of that is good) that this clown is a media star.

There's just no reason to listen to his self-serving (and frequently inaccurate) screaming.
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  #8  
Old 07-31-05, 05:21 PM
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Man he gonna have an hour long show, thats alot of time for a sports show, its gonna be hard to fill all that time
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  #9  
Old 07-31-05, 05:28 PM
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never forget the A is for ASS

I also refuse to give any thought to this moron, he is nothing to me. And I hope by ignoring him the people at ESPN will listen.
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  #10  
Old 07-31-05, 05:38 PM
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It's a sad day at the family house when I find myself agreeing with Peter Vescey.
My thought for the day.
"Boycott Steven A. Smith"

Seriously though, I will watch the program just to see if it's any good, if it's the same baloney he brings to the NBA, I won't see him for long.
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  #11  
Old 07-31-05, 06:08 PM
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FINALLY a good article about SAS!!! He is the best sports announcer and he is the only reason i watch ESPN...
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  #12  
Old 07-31-05, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
He is the best sports announcer
your joking right?
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  #13  
Old 07-31-05, 06:54 PM
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He is also prone to effusively proclaiming his approval of the players he favors. Discussing the Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett on the air recently, he said, "Here's what it comes down to: Nobody loves the boy more than I do. I love K. G.!"
Still have a question as to why he hates Rasho so much? Especially after Rasho chose to leave KG to join TD!!
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  #14  
Old 07-31-05, 07:02 PM
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"I realize there is a paucity of African-Americans in my position," Mr. Smith said. "Everywhere I go, people say, 'Don't mess this up, don't forget about us.' You feel a tremendous responsibility, not to take the black side of things, but to make sure that side gets heard, because if I don't do it, who's going to do it?"
who does he think he is now, MLK... is this the 60s or something? give me a break. if anything, he uses the race issue to further his "buzz" factor and his "q" rating. most black journalists dont have to make stupid statements like that these days.

this is the same moron ragging on glenn robinson while he was laying his mother to rest. the same guy who wants to be taken seriously one second... and the next second is throwing a fit like he's 10 years old... or acting like huggy bear in a made for espn remake of some bad blacksploitation film from the 70s.

this dude is entertainment and he's not even that good at that... if they wanted a serious show theres plenty of other black or white (or any other color) reporters out there who could do better.
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Old 07-31-05, 07:12 PM
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SAS is a journalistic joke and a fraud. I will root for him to fail and ESPN will look like fools once the controversial appeal wears off and people tune out once they get ill from his lack of substance and meaningful purpose. I would never watch his show, even if he had real guests like MJ or Magic. Guys like the respected David Aldridge get bumped so we could watch the SAS parade.
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  #16  
Old 07-31-05, 07:22 PM
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I can't stand ABC/ESPN's basketball coverage. I wish all the games, playoffs included, were on TNT. Ratings be damned.
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Old 07-31-05, 07:24 PM
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Speaking of David Aldridge- haven't heard anything from him all summer. He is the ONE and ONLY guy in the national media that I have trusted for info on the Spurs.
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  #18  
Old 07-31-05, 07:28 PM
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I part I hated most about the SI article is that the writer said how much SAS(S) was "loved" by the fans....... :
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  #19  
Old 07-31-05, 08:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vito Corleone
never forget the A is for ASS

I also refuse to give any thought to this moron, he is nothing to me. And I hope by ignoring him the people at ESPN will listen.
:
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  #20  
Old 07-31-05, 08:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ginobili!!!
Man he gonna have an hour long show, thats alot of time for a sports show, its gonna be hard to fill all that time
Hour long show will be easy.
Figure maybe 18 minutes of commercials,
5 minutes of a guest expressing his view..........
37 minutes of SAS shouting over them telling them they are wrong.
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  #21  
Old 07-31-05, 08:55 PM
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This is the kind of stuff a lot of people would say about Howard Cosell, but the dude became an icon in the business. From the first time I heard SAS, that's the guy I felt he is trying to emulate. He is not as witty as Howard but he makes up for it by being loud. But this article and the SI article SAS basically says the same thing, he is going to tell it like it is. Damn if that don't sound like what Cosell would say. Of course he worded it different, but it's the same message.
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  #22  
Old 07-31-05, 11:19 PM
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i haven't watched it yet. and don't tell me if i'm missing something or not missing anything, i don't care.
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  #23  
Old 07-31-05, 11:47 PM
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Everybody will watch it. One because you love him, two because you love to hate him.
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  #24  
Old 08-01-05, 01:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DizzG
SAS is a waste of air space. I wouldnt waste any minutes of my life watching that crap

Im sure there is a handful of people that may like this guy or watch this nonsense (RichB )
I was stating my opinion, just as you have done here. The guy is entertaining, but he can also be annoying. Some days I'll watch - some days I won't.

You don't have to like it or agree with it.

I just happen to look at Smith with a much more open mind than most Spurs fans do.

I don't always agree with what he's saying or how he's saying it - and I don't always disagree with the man either.

If you actually read what he said in print - and not associate the words with the voice or the face or the name - much of what he says makes a lot of sense.

I think the problem is that you, as well as myself and many others are not always able to seperate the message from the messenger.

That's strictly my opinion and of course, you don't have to agree with me anymore than anyone else has to agree with you.

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  #25  
Old 08-01-05, 01:39 AM
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SAS is a piece of ****!!!!!!!
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  #26  
Old 08-01-05, 02:37 AM
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The genius of Stephen A Smith is that while the viewer will either like or hate (usually hate) him, most of the time they will come back.

What I like about his new show? The interview possibilities. Do not underestimate the man's connections with athletes. If he can bring in a Terell Owens regularly, it's gonna be awesome.
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  #27  
Old 08-01-05, 02:58 AM
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Our country just got even sadder than it already is.

When one of the angriest human beings on the face of the earth gets rewarded by his own show, you know Armageddon can't be far off.

The only thing I'm happy about is that Smith works for ESPN and not for the military. But we all know the truth - TNT is about class, and ESPN is about pomp. Their coverage is deplorable. It's actually unwatchable, but if you love the NBA, you have to deal with it somehow. And to add insult to injury, ESPN fires David Aldridge.

The world needs people like David Aldridge, not vermin like Smith. I'd love to hear what guys like Barkley and Kenny Smith say about Smith behind closed doors. Those guys are talented on-air personalities. To hear an exec at ESPN use the words "Smith" and "talent" in the same sentence is truly frightening.

Lord, please come quick and take us home....

Any questions about who the top NBA studio announcer is on the only network in Hell?
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  #28  
Old 08-01-05, 03:51 AM
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Quote:
I just happen to look at Smith with a much more open mind than most Spurs fans do.
*sigh* should have know you would trumpet your somehow being more objective than everyone else.

You can like SAS as thats your right, but I dont think the hate for him is just a "Spurs Fan" thing. I happen to know plenty of non Spurs fans that think he is 100% tool.

Whenever I see his name come up at a few non Spurs boards I also post at I would say prob 95% think he is a dumbass

I doubt his show will last very long.
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Old 08-01-05, 04:04 AM
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I'll probably watch it as often as I do any other non-PTI ESPN show, which means I'll probably see it 3 or 4 times a month if it's a daily thing. If it's one of those once weekly things, Stephen might as well count me out as a viewer.

I saw Stephen tone it down a few times during the playoffs coverage, and he wasn't really that bad.

And I'd much rather watchin screaming Stephen over Bill Walton, anyday.
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Old 08-01-05, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichB
I was stating my opinion, just as you have done here. The guy is entertaining, but he can also be annoying. Some days I'll watch - some days I won't.

You don't have to like it or agree with it.

I just happen to look at Smith with a much more open mind than most Spurs fans do.

I don't always agree with what he's saying or how he's saying it - and I don't always disagree with the man either.

If you actually read what he said in print - and not associate the words with the voice or the face or the name - much of what he says makes a lot of sense.

I think the problem is that you, as well as myself and many others are not always able to seperate the message from the messenger.

That's strictly my opinion and of course, you don't have to agree with me anymore than anyone else has to agree with you.

if you have such as open mind, why do you assume that spurs fans don't like sas because he doesn't like the spurs? i don't like him because he's a clown. i don't like dick vitale or chris berman either for the same reason, neither of them hates the spurs.
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Old 08-01-05, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DizzG
SAS is a waste of air space. I wouldnt waste any minutes of my life watching that crap

Im sure there is a handful of people that may like this guy or watch this nonsense (RichB )
you only feel this way cause of what he has said in the past. so in a sense you're as bad as he is

yes SAS is a jackass, but if you can get around his Spurs hatered you will realize just how much comedy can be had by laughing at SAS. It's like B Cox, most in SA hated him cause he poked fun at the Spurs and their fans. But if you took a step back and watched the frivolity between B Cox and the Spurs fans calling into the show it was actually quite amusing. That is how I view SAS. He is someone that doesnt mind people laughing at him for acting like a jackass.
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Last edited by spurs win again; 08-01-05 at 12:08 PM.
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  #32  
Old 08-01-05, 12:06 PM
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He's become a cruder, louder, more opiniated Howard Cosell equivalent.
Loud, opinionated....love him or hate him.
It's a short term phenom I suspect. More hype and marketing than substance.

But he'll never be a Howard Cosell who had wisdom, was witty, entertaining and at least interesting at times. In the end, people will grow tired of him because SAS has clabber for brains.
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Old 08-01-05, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bnwhuxley
"Stephen A. is ringing a bell," said Mark Shapiro, an executive vice president of ESPN. "People like him and dislike him, but they still watch him. These days, it's hard to find a talent who strikes a chord that way. Polarization is a commodity." He added: "We're in the hit-making business. And Stephen A. is a game-changer."
There you go, folks. Stop complaining and change the channel.
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Old 08-01-05, 12:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spurs win again
you only feel this way cause of what he has said in the past. so in a sense you're as bad as he is

yes SAS is a jackass, but if you can get around his Spurs hatered you will realize just how much comedy can be had by laughing at SAS. It's like B Cox, most in SA hated him cause he poked fun at the Spurs and their fans. But if you took a step back and watched the frivolity between B Cox and the Spurs fans calling into the show it was actually quite amusing. That is how I view SAS. He is someone that doesnt mind people laughing at him for acting like a jackass.
like I said earlier...this is just not a Spurs thing. I dont think he has anything worth listening to. I dont find him particularly insightful, intelligent, or entertaining on any subject he speaks about....Spurs or not

I guess I just have better things to do than want to watch someone just to laugh at how stupid he is

He is more screaming and hype than real substance. Many non spurs fans I know dont like him either

There is nothing there to make me want to tune into his show. I didnt say people must agree with me...but this isnt a Spurs thing or some Spurs homer issue
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  #35  
Old 08-01-05, 08:12 PM
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I think it's funny how Rich automatically assumes our tastes are constantly related to the Spurs.

Maybe he's right. After all, I eat Quiznos, shop at HEB, and buy my cars at Gunn.

Not really. I know, for instance, Greg Anthony is not a noted "Spurs lover", but I don't find him nearly as disagreeable as SAS. It is a question of style...and I have absolutely no use for his bombast.
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  #36  
Old 08-01-05, 08:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nextghitman
FINALLY a good article about SAS!!! He is the best sports announcer and he is the only reason i watch ESPN...
You have got to be kidding. Well have fun watching his show. I'm sure you and RichB will have fun talking about it in your "We love SAS" thread
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  #37  
Old 08-01-05, 08:42 PM
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SAS and charles barkley both tell it like it is but :one, barkley is much funnier and two, when it comes to basketball, sir charles knows a hell of a lot more than SAS.
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Old 08-01-05, 09:49 PM
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i did catch the show and it was pretty good allen iverson was very candid, however there wasn't a whole lot of originality to the show as if we were basically watching a interview piece they would show on nba shootaround, still not sure if i like the show though as the format could get tiresome quickly
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  #39  
Old 08-01-05, 10:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjv
SAS and charles barkley both tell it like it is but :one, barkley is much funnier and two, when it comes to basketball, sir charles knows a hell of a lot more than SAS.
Yeah I was having a debate with someone earlier about what the differences between SAS and Charles were.
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  #40  
Old 08-01-05, 11:25 PM
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Stephen A makes alot of noise when people are not there, but I have a feeling that with people in his face he is going to throw some softball questions and turn into Oprah!
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Old 08-01-05, 11:43 PM
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I saw his show and it was intriguing and entertaining, of course SAS was his own worse enemy, but listening to Allen Iverson for an hour was an enlightning experience. The best thing about the whole hour was that Smith let Iverson do a lot of talking, and boy did he talk. I love Iverson's game, no and ifs or buts. Alas, his take on many issues just don't jive with mine.
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  #42  
Old 08-02-05, 12:22 AM
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Somewhere in medialand, they've invented this notion that merely taking a opinion, stating it obnoxiously and defending it without reason is wildly entertaining.
Sadly, there are many, many people who agree with these principles.

I don't see anything wrong with good old-fashioned reporting - the game itself is far more interesting than any of these sideshow clowns.
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  #43  
Old 08-02-05, 12:31 AM
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I missed it!
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Old 08-02-05, 03:11 AM
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don't worry jason, knowing espn they will probally replay the episode about 5 or 6 times in a day!
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  #45  
Old 08-02-05, 03:17 AM
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I caught about 5min of it after reading here that AI was the guest.

AI was asked who in the league plays with as much heart as he does, and he named Shaq, Lebron, TMac, Larry Hughes and maybe one or two more. No Pistons or Spurs, which I thought was strange.

He also said he doesn't need a championship to validate his career. I think in his heart of hearts, he knows he's not leaving Philly, and Philly can't win a championship.
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Old 08-02-05, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bnwhuxley
I caught about 5min of it after reading here that AI was the guest.

AI was asked who in the league plays with as much heart as he does, and he named Shaq, Lebron, TMac, Larry Hughes and maybe one or two more. No Pistons or Spurs, which I thought was strange.

He also said he doesn't need a championship to validate his career. I think in his heart of hearts, he knows he's not leaving Philly, and Philly can't win a championship.
for ai, maybe i'll watch it.

i wouldn't expect ai to name every player in the league that plays hard. i'm pretty sure that he and tim are friends. last time philly was in san antonio, i spotted tim making a gesture right after the game that looked like he was telling iverson to call him, probably for some dinner or drinks. they played together on the olympic team.
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Old 08-02-05, 09:05 AM
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The fact that this thread has 1017 views, 45 posts, and remains on the top of SR for 3 days running signals future success for Stephen A.

He thanks all of you for keeping him in the collective conscious and relevant...

(even the posters who claim they will not watch yet still feel compelled to comment on a SAS thread)
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