Stephen A. Smith’s producers are used to watching him lose his mind while yelling sports, but rarely do they have to worry about him crossing the line with the use of profanity.
Sunday night, they were briefly caught off guard during Smith’s fiery rant about the New York Knicks. That’s right, minutes before the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors tipped off Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Smith worked New York into the conversation and caused ABC’s producers to fumble the bleep button.
The NBA Countdown pregame show cast of Smith, Michael Wilbon, Mike Greenberg and Jalen Rose were discussing the news that Quin Snyder stepped down as head coach of the Utah Jazz and what it could mean for star guard Donovan Mitchell.
“You now see if Stephen A’s right and Donovan Mitchell ends up somewhere else. And don’t say New York,” Rose said to Smith.
ABC bleeped the wrong part of Stephen A. Smith's fiery rant before the NBA Finals pic.twitter.com/g4okYFPRBh
— Brandon Contes (@BrandonContes) June 6, 2022
“God damn right I’m gonna say the New York Knicks,” Smith passionately yelled back, sparking panic in the control room and a near two-second use of the bleep button. “Look, look, look, we all know [bleep] the great Phil Jackson, 11-time champion as coach, should be banned from the city of New York, he should never be allowed in New York again after the atrocity of running the New York Knicks organization. This man passed up on Donovan Mitchell to draft Frank Ntilikina. It should never be forgiven. Donovan Mitchell should have been in New York City if Phil Jackson knew what the hell he was doing.”
The bleep was certainly intended for “God damn,” but it came very late and instead censored “that Phil Jackson.” ESPN posted an unbleeped version of the clip on their YouTube channel, allowing us to confirm that Smith said, “Look, look, look, we all know that Phil Jackson, the great Phil Jackson.”
Knicks fans might appreciate Phil Jackson getting the bleep treatment considering his deplorable tenure as president of the franchise, but the FCC does not require it. The FCC doesn’t require “God damn” to be bleeped either, deeming it not legally profane, but with some of the audience considering it offensive, networks still often choose to censor the word pairing.
The famed sports talker may have caused his producers to briefly panic Sunday night, but he could teach a class on clean sports ranting. Stephen A. Smith is to clean rants what Jerry Seinfeld is to clean comedy.