Today I received a twitter message on my cell that came from sports journalist, and ESPN NBA analyst, Stephen A Smith. He confirmed that the rumors were true, and that his last day with ESPN would be on May 1, 2009.
The word is that Stephen A. and ESPN couldn't come to an agreement on a new contract. ESPN was offering less money than they were currently paying Stephen A., and he turned down the money that they were offering.
"It’s been a wonderful, wonderful ride, filled with great accomplishments, great memories and, most importantly, great friendships," Smith said. "It’s difficult to express how appreciative I am to everyone at ESPN for all they’ve done for my career. But nothing lasts forever. It’s time to move on."
This is a sad day in sports journalism, and for ESPN as well.
Let me explain.
I'm 32 years old and I was raised in the old school. I would listen to my father, uncles, cousins, friends and we would all talk sports at bbq's, barber shops and on the corners.
They all sounded like Stephen A. They were real, and regardless of how strong people felt about certain topics or people, they told it like it is.
This is a lost art in journalism, especially in sports.
Smith didn't cross this line and he stayed true to himself in bringing sports to the masses. He was rewarded with a talk show on ESPN and a radio show, along with a regular column in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Then, little by little, it all unraveled.
Smith is the reason I would watch ESPN, because he is one of the few sports reporter in the media that can cross over and talk to the younger generation. He also talks to my demographics.
The second best people on ESPN at giving good analysis are Micheal Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser from Pardon the Interruption.
These are the only three people to me that make ESPN legitimate.
Stephen A, I know your an east coast guy like me, but go to FOX. I'm sure they will pay you the money your looking for, and they'll benefit from this in that they'll get your fan base.
I'm doing sports journalism in college now because I love sports and I've always been able to follow and critically think about sports without hardly thinking. However, my fascination with sports broadcasting grew when I saw Stephen A. Smith.
I thought to myself, "At last there is a sport journalist. A man that tells you the truth for better or worse."
Either way you would respect him for it, and you have to love that. That alone is worth enough for ESPN to at least pay him the salary that he was getting.
Smith is talented, too talented to be out of work for long. He will be doing something else real soon, I'm sure of it.
His legacy has been cemented, and there has to be more room for people like Smith and Jim Rome. Their brand of sports reporting is a lost art, and if people are scared of the truth in sports, they aren't real sports fans.
We'll miss you Stephen A.
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