Fans are trashing ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith over what they’re calling a “backhanded” compliment aimed at L.A.-bound basketball star LeBron James.
In a video uploaded to Twitter, the sports-talking provocateur praised James for the recent opening of his I Promise School in Akron, Ohio. The year-round school, which welcomed its first students on July 30, offers students free tuition, a food pantry for underserved families and guaranteed tuition to the University of Akron for every child who graduates.
“Look, I appreciate LeBron James and the I Promise Foundation,” said Smith, who has a history of bashing the former Cleveland Cavalier. “I appreciate what he’s doing — it’s very, very touching.”
“I’m a Black man,” he continued. “This man doing what he’s doing for the locals in Akron, Ohio, for those kids, for those disenfranchized kids. I can’t say enough about it.”
The sports commentator went on to say if there were ever a time to discuss James as the “GOAT” (Greatest of All-Time), it would be for his contributions to the community — not his prowess on the basketball court. Smith’s “compliment” really went left when he suggested fellow NBA players Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony would rather play elsewhere than join a team with LeBron.
“We’re so busy talking about him going to L.A. and who he’s gonna play with,” he said. “What about the fact that Chris Paul elected not to go to L.A. to join him. What about the fact that Carmelo Anthony would rather go play with Chris Paul rather than Lebron?”
“It’s just a question, Smith added before walking off.
LeBron fans didn’t take too kindly to his shady commentary, however.
“Why you gonna commend him one sec and then ask a passive aggressive question the next smh,” one person asked. “Deep down inside this dude hates LeBron and root for him to fail.”
“LeBron doesn’t not need your on again off again support of ANYTHING he is involved in,” another person chimed in. “Further more, stop using his name to make boost ya sagging ratings.”
One critic wondered why Stephen A. couldn’t just say something positive and “keep it moving.”
“It’s not only touching but it’s admirable an extremely impressive,” one user said of James’ charitable efforts. “All the LeBron haters need realize what a positive difference this man is making in the lives of young people and his community.”
It's very touching what LeBron is doing for his community. pic.twitter.com/1chPvI5R4A
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) August 1, 2018