Richard Jefferson Feels Stephen A. Smith Crossed A Professional Line By Saying Kawhi Should Retire Because He’s “The Worst Superstar” …”You Can’t Rely On Him.”

Los Angeles Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard was forced to miss the final four games of the Clippers’ 4-1 series loss to the Phoenix Suns due to a torn meniscus.

The injury is just the latest in medical setbacks that have hindered Leonard and the Clippers from reaching their potential. Leonard returned this season after missing the entire 2021-22 season after tearing his ACL in the Western Conference semifinals versus the Utah Jazz. 

In all no matter how you spin it, Leonard who was signed in the summer of 2019, after leading the Toronto Raptors to the 2019 NBA championship just hasn’t been available much.  Following his latest setback, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith had some harsh criticism for the former San Diego State legend. 

Stephen A. Smith Says Kawhi Leaonard Has Failed As A Superstar

During an episode of ESPN’s “First Take,” Smith who’s known to not mince his words, said this. 

“The man is a two-time champion. He’s a two-time Finals MVP. … But he is the absolute worst superstar you could possibly have on your team,” said Smith. “He’s barely ever there, and on top of it all, he does nothing to market or promote your franchise.”

Pretty strong statement from SAS, and he was taken to task by a fellow ESPN NBA analyst for those reckless comments.

Richard Jefferson Defends Leonard While Calling Out Smith 

It didn’t take long for Smith’s comments to circulate and for others to come to the Leonard’s defense. ESPN NBA analyst and one-time NBA champion Richard Jefferson didn’t waste much time firing back at Smith. 

During an “NBA Today” segment, RJ was pretty thorough in his approach and what he was trying to get across. 

“The man has a torn meniscus, and there’s nothing you can do. I don’t like hearing people say that the Clippers should make him retire. I don’t like hearing people say that Kawhi should retire because it’s nobody’s place to tell a player when to retire. That is not our job, that is not our place,” Jefferson said.

The former Arizona Wildcats star wasn’t done. 

“When I look at guys like Derrick Rose, who went through horrific injury, after injury, and all he did was keep battling back — put up a 50-point game with tears in his eyes. When I look at guys that are battling back all the time, I think about Isiah Thomas battling back … we can’t sit up here in this position and ever tell a player when it’s done. That’s not our place,” RJ concluded.

Smith’s Words Fell On Deaf Ears, Clippers Sticking With Leonard 

While Leonard has only played in 161 games in four seasons with the Clippers, the franchise is still committed to him for the long term. He’s due over $48 million next season, and from the sounds of it owner Steve Ballmer is OK with keeping his franchise player in a Clippers uniform. 

Paul George, Leonard’s running mate, hasn’t fared much better on the health front, as he’s played just 189 games in the same amount of time. But the team is sticking by him as well and his also over $48 million due next season. 

Both are still fairly young with Leonard 32 and George 31, but one has to wonder if they’ll ever be healthy enough for the Clippers to contend for an NBA title, which is why they teamed up. 

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