Stephen A Smith during a live ESPN broadcast.
It is not very often that I write about national recognized sports journalists and label them as bias and/or discriminatory. After all, they keep me entertained and informed about the latest news and trends in sports. However, it is important that we as fans call them out if we feel that they are crossing the line on certain topics, even if they have said it mindlessly. It does not happen as often as it used to anymore, but enter Stephen A. Smith.
We know that SAS has been a sports commentator for many years. He is one of the highest paid journalists, and a recognized leader in the industry. But, on more than one occasion he has made what I perceived as anti-immigrant comments about a few foreign born athletes. It makes me wonder, is it a coincidence? Some people do not think so.
Giannis can not be the face of the NBA according to Stephen A. Smith
As an example, most NBA insiders and journalists have picked Giannis from the Milwaukee Bucks as the number 1 player in the league for some years now (top two in some cases). SAS ‘argument has always been that the best player in the league must also be the face of the NBA. I do not necessarily agree with that statement. I found his argument flawed, because in that case, why can Giannis be the face of the NBA? After all he has been the MVP on back to back years and an NBA Champion.
Giannis was born in Greece and did not immigrated to the United States until he was 20 to play for the Milwaukee Bucks. He does not have the background that SAS can relate to.
It is worth mentioning that SAS lists Steph Curry and Lebron as the 1 and 2 player, and hence, as the faces of the NBA. Although he has made it clear that he does admire Giannis, SAS believes he is not a true ‘complete’ player. It is worth noting that most analysts rank Giannis as a top two player, and as clearly the most dominant while SAS has consistently put him in his top five.
Shoei Ohtani does not speak English
In another show, with a similar topic of conversation, but now specifically discussing Japanese born sensation Shoei Ohtani, from the Los Angeles Angels, he was debating whether he could be the best player in the league, SAS argued and bluntly said that he would never be the face of the MLB because he simply does not speak English.
He then elaborated, and added that in order for a star player to be the face of the league, that one athlete must ‘connect’ with the fans. He finds it difficult for Ohtani to have that level of connection with the American fan base without speaking English. As I was watching the show, I could not helped but noticed how discriminatory that sounded. He ended up formulating an apology the following day on his show. Ohtani is a rare, once in a generation type of player who can win the MVP award every season.
SAS is wrong in diminishing the status of immigrant/foreign players in American sports. After all, we are a globalized society and more importantly, America is a nation of immigrants. Ohtani and Giannis could be the faces of their respective leagues, they are monsters in what they do. Fans need to start challenging sports journalists and broadcasters when they see or hear something that may be discriminatory or even racist. In our day and age, everyone must be checked regardless of popularity or influence.