October 11, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith (r) stands on the court prior to the New York Knicks game against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Recently on ESPN’s Sportscenter, basketball analyst Stephen A. Smith was asked which streak was more impressive: the NBA’s Miami Heat who, at the time, won 14 games in a row or the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks who were on a 22-game unbeaten streak to start a season. Smith, to the surprise of no one, chose the former.
Where do I even begin?
First of all, for a team who predicted multiple championships, what the Miami Heat do in the regular season means absolutely nothing. I’m not taking anything away from LeBron James, Dwayne Wade or even Shane Battier but unless they win titles, no one cares what they do. Whether they stream roll over all of their competition or they can squeak into the playoffs on the last day of the season, it just doesn’t matter.
The Chicago Blackhawks on the other hand are a different story. Despite winning the Stanley Cup only three years ago, many hockey analysts overlooked this team heading into the regular season. Not only that but some of even said that head coach Joel Quenneville would be fired, Patrick Kane would be traded and Marian Hossa, who suffered a devastating concussion last spring, wouldn’t be the same player upon his return. Not only have the three aforementioned exceeded expectations but the goaltending duo of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery has played brilliantly much to everyone’s surprise. That alone just shows how unpredictable hockey is, a refreshing contrast to basketball.
On the subject of Marian Hossa and the concussion he suffered less than a year ago, the fact that he’s back and playing in vintage Hossa form not only speaks volumes for the Blackhawks but it does so for hockey in general and the intestinal fortitude it takes to play this game. Basketball doesn’t require that – it only requires baggy shorts and an unnecessary flare for dramatics.
You just have to watch NHLers and NBAers walk into an arena before games. NHLers walk into arena wearing beautiful, clean suits looking like the professionals they are whereas (most) NBAers walk into arenas looking like spoiled housewives wearing fur coats and “bling” bringing down the curve for everyone around them. Is it any wonder that most NBAers bitched and moaned when Commissioner David Stern implemented a business casual dress code? God forbid any basketball player should look presentable instead of dressing like a 15-year-old.
To watch Smith’s rant, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NXVxVmUYK4
As for Stephen A. Smith himself, he did miss one very important point: there are no ties in hockey. Working for the so-called “Worldwide leader in sports,” logic would suggest that he would know that, but evidently that’s not true. In reaction to hockey having ties, Smith said, “This ain’t soccer!”
You’re right, Stephen. Hockey ain’t soccer. In fact, if anything, basketball’s like soccer. Like soccer players, basketball players fall to the floor like pansies when they get slapped in the face, roll over when they fall on their feet after a shot (falling on their feet after jumping a few inches, how painful!) and bitch to the refs when they get pushed. Maybe Stephen A. would like to watch some hockey highlights. If he does, he should look no further than the Los Angeles Kings.
While he’s not the smallest guy in hockey, Dustin Brown certainly isn’t among the biggest or most intimidating. With that said, he has made it a regular occurrence of dishing out devastating hits, dropping the gloves for the occasional fight and blue-collaring his way towards a goal. You look at Matt Greene and he makes spectators cringe at the thought of being a defenseman. To block a shot, Greene sacrifices his body and earns a plethora of welts, bruises and cuts for his efforts. He takes it on the ankle, the shin, the torso, the face and even if blood streams down his kisser (which has happened multiple times), he’ll stay in the game because he’s a hockey player and hockey players are warriors. The same thing can be said for Rob Scuderi who remained in a game this year despite getting black eye as a result of a crushing hit. The same thing can also be said in last June’s Cup-clinching game when he was illegally checked, drew blood but stayed in the game regardless. Can any basketball player even close to duplicating that? No, I didn’t think so.
As for another of Smith’s arguments, he dismissed hockey simply because they have a team in Columbus and went to say that he didn’t know which Columbus the NHL was in. It’s funny that Smith pointed that out being that I was once in Maine to catch a Trail Blazers game and then realized that I was in the wrong Portland. Of course, I should have known better as there is a distinctive difference between the fresh air of the Atlantic Coast and the repulsive stench of athlete’s foot from the Nike headquarters.
But does Stephen A. Smith really want to criticize hockey for the locations of its franchises? They may be on the collegiate level but at least Columbus (and for the record Stephen, it’s the one in Ohio) has the Buckeyes. Care to explain why the NBA has franchises in Portland, Sacramento and Salt Lake City? And while you’re at it, I’d love to hear the explanation as to why the NBA moved out of Charlotte, North Carolina due to lack of fan support only to reward an expansion team to the city just a few years later.
Now, you want to separate the men from the boys then put hockey highlights next to ones of the basketball variety. As far as the latter goes, it’s all the same: dunk shots and buzzer beaters. Hockey is filled with creative goals, beautiful passes, bone-jarring hits and unbelievable saves. Basketball players get fouled for goaltending. Where’s the fun in that? At least they can compose themselves during the dozen TV timeouts in the final minute of regulation.
Overall, Stephen A. Smith needs to put his money where his mouth is. While most sports analysts give their vast expertise on their respective sports, Stephen A. Smith gives us his tiresome Richard Pryor impersonation and in last week’s case, constantly repeating the word “tie” to emphasize hockey’s supposed disadvantage, akin to Allen Iverson’s uneducated, pathetic “practice” rant.
Stephen A. Smith is nothing more than a little girl disguised as an adult who unfathomably thinks his angry black man routine is mildly entertaining. I’d ask how in the world this man is employed but he is employed by ESPN which, despite having their headquarters located in hockey-hungry New England, doesn’t know (and doesn’t care to know) anything about the game of hockey. They had the audacity to ignore the tragic Lokomotiv plane crash of 2011 as part of their tribute segment at the ESPYs and they have even more gall employing a man who clearly doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground.
Stephen A. Smith, do hockey fans (you know, the real sports fans) a favour and strap on a pair of skates and you’ll see just how wrong you were dismissing such a great sport. Of course, that won’t happen. Knowing you, you’ll immediately cower in the fetal position like the worthless prima donna you are.