ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has done many, many hours of live television, radio, podcasts and more, and many more hours of interviews about his projects, so it’s understandable that he doesn’t remember everything he’s been asked or everything he’s said. However, it is very disappointing for the sports internet that one of the most renowned tweets of all time, centering on Smith, doesn’t appear to have left any impression on him. That, of course, would be now-Defector writer David J. Roth’s 2012 tweet imagining Smith at a P.F. Chang’s, which has received more than 14,000 retweets and more than 35,000 likes over the past decade-plus:
PF Chang's waiter: "[Recites specials] Stephen A. Smith: (Acts surprised) "To me, that's preposterous. Crab Rangoon, things of that nature."
— David Roth (@david_j_roth) June 13, 2012
That crab rangoon tweet has received incredible amounts of discussion over the years. One part of that came when Dennis Young centered it in a 2017 piece at The Awl, writing that “No piece of writing has captured the essence of Stephen A. Smith better than a viral tweet imagining him at P.F. Chang’s.” That piece included an anonymous ESPN on-air personality calling Smith “an absurd character” and saying “The idea of him reacting to a random obscure menu item like that is the perfect sitcom version of him making his way in a world where everything is so much less important than how he talks about it.” And in 2018, Nina Mandell actually showed Smith that tweet for a For The Win piece. But, in a wide-ranging interview with David Marchese (remarks bolded below) published Sunday in The New York Times Magazine, Smith said he had never heard of the tweet:
Everybody doesn’t have the same taste buds. What tastes good to some people might not taste good to other people!
Like crab rangoon and things of that nature? No.
That was a callback. There was that tweet that went viral a couple of years ago that joked about you and crab rangoon. I did not know that.
But you’ve commented on it before. I commented about crab rangoon?
No, you commented about the tweet. I don’t recall ever commenting about crab rangoon in my life! Ever! You’d have to prove it to me because I’d be inclined to tell you that’s a fabricated story.
I just put the link to the story in the Zoom chat. Hold on. “We Showed Stephen A. Smith the Viral ‘Crab Rangoon’ Tweet.” I have no recollection of that whatsoever.
It is pretty clear that Smith was, in fact, shown the crab rangoon tweet. It seems inconceivable that he wasn’t shown it before 2018 given how viral it went, and that no one sent him the 2017 crab rangoon-centric profile. But even if we take that as read, in 2018, Mandell actually took video of Smith reading the tweet. The video doesn’t seem to exist on that article page these days, but it did at one point! For now, though, we have to live with Mandell’s writeup of it:
He read it — and at least said he wasn’t offended (and also proclaimed he had never seen or heard about it before). Then, because he is Stephen A. Smith and no point will ever go uncontested, he said there were better impersonations of him out there. “People, listen, Jamie Foxx is going to play a part in a movie where he calls himself Cleveland A. Smith,” he said.
There are obviously many more serious topics of discussion out there with Smith, from his recent look back at his 2014 suspension for comments on Ray Rice and domestic violence through his comments on Donald Trump through his looks back at his own career. But it is quite amusing to see him claim to have no idea of the existence of the crab rangoon tweet in 2018, be shown it, and then claim to again have no idea of its existence five years later, even saying “I’d be inclined to tell you that’s a fabricated story.” Next, he’ll be claiming he was never heckled. And in five years, we’ll have to again inform him of the existence of the Crab Rangoon tweet.