Stephen A. Smith is one of the most entertaining men in sports media, but his unfiltered takes are even spicier.
We routinely see Smith spout his genuine opinions on his radio show, and during a recent episode of Podcast P with Paul George, he gave a behind-the-scenes story of an interaction with Rich Paul. One of the most influential people in the sports business, Paul is a superstar agent to clients like Anthony Davis, Fred VanVleet, and of course, LeBron James, who’s also one of his closest friends.
Smith has long ranked James as the second-best NBA player of all time, with Michael Jordan reigning supreme, and Paul took offense to it.
“I got him as the second-best player in the history of basketball. I got him ahead of Kareem. I got him behind nobody but Jordan,” Smith said. “I said to Mr. Chirper himself, Rich Paul, ‘You act like that’s an insult.’ This dude [says], ‘It is an insult.’ I said, ‘Get the f—k out of my face,’” Smith recounted.
After that statement, Smith was fed up with Paul caping for LeBron and was ready to end the conversation.
“When you’re going to treat me like I’m disrespecting, by calling him, in the history of a game that started in 1947, disrespecting a man by having him No. 2 all time, you have lost your damn mind,” Smith said. “I’m not talking to you.”
The ESPN pundit goes on to explain a fault of King James is how he deflects when he doesn’t perform well. When he’s on top of the world and dominating the playoffs, he’s quick to tout about being the best. But amid embarrassing losses, he downplays it and talks about his good deeds outside of basketball, like being the best father and role model he can be.
“Damn it, nobody is talking about that, man. You know, good and damn well, we talking about that jump shot where you shot 2 for 10. Stop it. Nobody questions your character. You’re trying to be slick. Can we stick to ball, please?” Smith adds.
You can watch the interview in its entirety below. See how X, formerly known as Twitter, is reacting to the age-old Jordan-LeBron debate.