Stephen A. Smith is back on ESPN’s “First Take,” and on Wednesday, the debate platform hosted ESPN contributor Jay Williams.
However, the usual pleasant arguments went south when the discussion veered into the polarizing Kyrie Irving lane.
“If Kyrie Irving’s Brooklyn Nets were to win the championship, it’s BAD for basketball!”
— First Take (@FirstTake) January 19, 2022
Stephen A. vs. J. Will
Williams answered a question from co-host Molly Qerim asking how much the Brooklyn Nets value home-court advantage, because Kyrie Irving is only playing road games and Kevin Durant is now out with a knee injury.
Once again Williams stated his position about the Nets’ big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving being dominant regardless of Irving’s home-games only schedule. Durant is currently out with a sprained left MCL, although reports are that it should heal without surgery with Durant back on the floor before playoffs.
Stephen A. Smith hates Kyrie Irving so much it’s disgusting. https://t.co/a6V5jkf6PB
— Brooklyn Netcast (@BrooklynNetcast) January 15, 2022
However, the conversation took an unforeseen turn.
“Are you an advocate of the Nets losing enough games where they end up being the road team more than being the home team for the sole expressed purpose of ensuring that the part-time player that is Kyrie Irving is available? Are you advocating that, Jay Williams?” said Smith.
To Vaccine Or Not To Vaccine
That opened the door for Williams to unload about how he feels about Smith’s excoriation of Irving’s decision not to get vaccinated.
The vaccine issue among certain athletes has been a thing between Smith and Williams in the past. When the world debated the Aaron Rodgers vaccine noncompliance last November, Williams charged Smith of not going as hard on that “bad man” as he did on Kyrie Irving. Both have refused to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
Smith feels that the Nets would be doing the league a disservice if Irving and the Nets won the NBA title this season. Irving is back playing for Brooklyn in road games only.
But Irving is now sitting out home games at the Barclays Center, which has made Stephen A. Smith believes the team “capitulated” to Irving. Prior, the Nets said Irving had to play in all or none of the team’s games, aka get the vaccine.
“You use this word all the time. You know I watch all your rankings, every single weekend, with NFL teams, you say, ‘IT’S FLUID!'” Williams said. “Isn’t life fluid, Stephen A.? Isn’t there a different way we felt a couple months ago compared to how we feel right now? Doesn’t that deserve to be in this scenario?”
After Qerim reminded Williams of a radio show he was running late to, the set got hot. Williams then accused Smith of “planning” the segment to stop him from making his point about Smith remixing the Irving narrative.
“You planned this,” Williams said.
“I didn’t plan it!” Smith retorted, then he had a mic drop moment for Williams.
“I don’t give a damn if it’s a big issue with you,” Smith said. “I don’t give a damn if you talk about it every morning. I don’t give a damn what you think I think about Kyrie Irving. I spit facts when it comes to basketball.”
“That’s your opinion,” Williams interjected.
“NO! FACTS! FACTS! FACTS FACTS FACTS!” Smith yelled. He also banged on the table to be clear.
In addition, to calling Williams a Kyrie “apologist,” Smith and Williams are developing an adversarial relationship for the ages.
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