Jamie Foxx had some choice words on Instagram this week for Stephen A. Smith about his ferocious verbal vivisection of Brooklyn Nets player Ben Simmons.
“That is completely unfair @bensimmons has a family this man has people that love him and this man just plays basketball but to be dragged through the mud like this is unfair…and why is it @stephenasmith you only go at basketball players…
“You completely mute when it comes to the Tom Bradys, the Aaron Rodgers of the world… You get where I’m going… stop it bruh it’s out of bounds.”
Even Ray Charles could have seen where there is smoke there is fire, and Foxx has a lot of it for Smith. However, it reopens the discussion about Smith’s ubiquitous journalism sports opinion that has been criticized as a mix of Black virtue-signaling or simply an exhibition of cultural tone-deafness.
Smith responded to his friend on an episode of “First Take.”
“Jamie Foxx knows better. He’s just highly protective of the Black athlete, as he should be, because they deserve our protection, to be quite honest with you, in a lot of situations. That’s what this is about.”
The Simmons-Irving Executioner
The Brooklyn Nets have been much maligned by many this season, but by none more than host of ESPN’s “First Take,” Stephen A. Smith.
During Monday’s “First Take” episode Smith ripped into Ben Simmons while continuing his scalding diatribe about Kyrie Irving’s perceived selfishness.
“Notice I said Kyrie Irving is one of the most selfish superstars we’ve ever seen and obviously one of the most selfish athletes we’ve ever seen. I didn’t say the word ‘the,’ as in number one, because, obviously, he doesn’t have nothing on Ben Simmons.
“Ben Simmons might also be the weakest, most pathetic excuse for a professional athlete we have ever seen in, not just American history, but the history of sports,” Smith continued. “I can’t think of a professional athlete that has come across more pathetic than this man.”
For many, the man who is the face of ESPN can be dangerously critical of Black athletes. He can also seemingly adjust the dial tone for takes in which he feels passionate. However, those decisions feel unbalanced when it comes to Black male athletes.
Smith has spread his narrative that Kyrie Irving’s decision not to take the vaccine is an example of him being “selfish” and has gone on an extended rant about Irving into their final stop in round one of the playoffs via a sweep by the Boston Celtics.
However, when it was revealed that Rodgers, whom Smith has coined as “that baaaad man” with adoration, also did not take the vaccine but did play and attend press conferences with no mask, he was not as consistently vitriolic.
The Kaepernick Quotient
When Colin Kaepernick changed the terms of his last workout opportunity in front of NFL teams back in 2019, Smith crucified Kaeperick as wanting to become a “martyr.”
“He don’t want to play. He wants to be a martyr,” Smith said via social media back in 2019.
Kaepernick was scheduled to stage a workout where all 32 teams were invited at the Atlanta Falcons complex. Although 25 teams sent scouts to the facility, reportedly, about an hour before the scheduled start, they were told the location had changed.
According to the reports, only eight of the original 25 team representatives went to the new location.
He doesn't want to play. pic.twitter.com/ZuSI1IVW9r
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) November 17, 2019
Tainting The Perspective
“Guess what? It ain’t working this time. All of us believe that Colin Kaepernick would have showed out, and if he had showed out, I believe he would have had a job inside of two weeks,” Smith continued on social media.
“But it didn’t happen, because he didn’t show. He wanted to show up at a high school in Georgia, not an NFL facility and then YouTube it live. You don’t want to work. You just want to make noise and you want to control the narrative. It’s over.”
Stephen A Smith emphatically states that his opinions are his own and not his employer’s.
However, the shared experiences of Black people have made many collectively uncomfortable when Smith’s words feel toxic. Calling Ben Simmons a “disgrace” when you aren’t inside the camp to truly understand whatever they are doing is more than judgmental; it taints.
Waiting To Exhale
The commentary can lead to creating a new type of trope: the entitled athlete as imagined, curated, and narrated by Stephen A. Smith.
Jamie Foxx told Smith, “you only go at basketball players,” and “You get where I’m going” before asking him to stop because “it’s out of bounds.” Smith’s commentary has long been derided as virtue-signaling tailored for Black athletes exclusively.
The passion in his voice conjures images of the owner’s suite in sports with Smith as their subconscious saying the quiet parts out loud.
Collectively the culture wants Smith to breathe. Like Terri McMillan’s famed book, Stephen A. Smith, we are waiting for you to exhale.