When your job consists of talking for several hours at a time on live television, mistakes will inevitably be made. Maybe you mix up one number with another while reciting a statistic, flub the name of a player or completely miss on a prediction for a playoff series. It happens.
But even by “embrace debate” standards, this is pretty ridiculous.
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After Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to a 128-123 win over the Celtics on Thursday night, ESPN caused a commotion on NBA Twitter by posting a quote from Stephen A. Smith about Antetokounmpo hypothetically joining the Warriors. Smith originally expressed his full thoughts Tuesday as part of a Q&A session.
“Honestly, I wish Giannis would go to the Warriors this offseason because I personally think a superstar like that should be in a bigger market,” Smith said. “Or could you imagine somebody like Giannis surrounded by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and those shooters? Golden State would be back in the championship for the next three to five years.
“And the Lakers nor the Clippers would beat them. I’m telling you that right now.”
Bucks fans will disagree with Smith and anyone else who keeps trying to push their MVP out of Milwaukee, but hey, the man is entitled to his opinion. And he’s paid quite well for sharing it, too.
(Please read this next word in a very Stephen A. Smith voice.)
HOWEVER . . .
Smith is contradicting himself. Travel back to 2016, and you’ll hear Smith crushing Kevin Durant for joining the Warriors. Here is what he had to say during an appearance on “SportsCenter” after news broke that Durant was heading to the Bay Area.
“I’m viewing it as the weakest move I’ve ever seen from a superstar. Plain and simple. That’s just how I look at it. It’s not that he’s leaving Oklahoma City — if you’re not happy there, and you want to move on, and you want to grow as a player, there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s one of the top three players in the world. He’s a quintessential superstar. He deserves all the credit in the world for the talent that he possesses. But the flip side is this: [the Thunder] were up 3-1 in the Western Conference finals. Not one, not two, but three different times he was 48 minutes removed from getting to the NBA Finals by winning the Western Conference. Three times he failed, particularly in Game 6. And you depart for the team that beat you? When you’re on the cusp of getting to the Finals yourself or ultimately winning the championship for the franchise that you’ve been with since you’ve come into the NBA? I think it’s incredibly weak. . . . In the end, what it comes down to is that Kevin Durant is one of the top three players in the world. And he ran away from the challenge that he faces in order to jump on the bandwagon of a team that’s a little bit better, that’s already rife with at least one superstar, a couple of guys, that can really, really get it done. I just view it as him jumping on the bandwagon, and I think it’s the weakest move I’ve ever seen by a superstar. Plain and simple.”
On a 2017 episode of “First Take,” Smith told Durant’s mother, Wanda, that because Durant was so great, “joining that team, to me, was almost unfair. And we’ve witnessed his greatness and how lopsided it made things.”
How would Giannis leaving the Bucks for the Warriors be any different from KD’s decision? Obviously Milwaukee hasn’t lost a 3-1 lead to Golden State, but almost everything else Smith declared applies to both cases.
Antetokounmpo is a top-three player and undoubtedly a superstar. He’s been with the Bucks since they selected him in the 2013 NBA Draft, and now they are a true title contender, if not the favorite. Milwaukee owns the league’s best record (27-6), point differential (plus-12.4), net rating (plus-11.9) and defensive rating (101.7). It’s also easy to forget the Bucks held a 2-0 advantage over the Raptors in the 2019 Eastern Conference finals before Toronto rattled off four straight wins and eventually captured the franchise’s first championship.
“The Greek Freak” is so close, and now you want him to leave? Antetokounmpo should be in a bigger market, but Durant shouldn’t have stretched beyond Oklahoma City? Antetokounmpo would help the Warriors eliminate any sense of competition in the West and heroically conquer the Lakers and Clippers, but Durant made things too lopsided? What are we talking about here?
Unless there is some secret expiration date on takes, let’s try a little bit harder to be consistent.