Stephen A. Smith on First Take Photo Credit: ESPN

Stephen A. Smith, as you may expect given his outward fandom of the New York Knicks, was not shy about who he was rooting for in Sunday’s Game 7 matchup between the Knicks and the Indiana Pacers. Naturally, he has received some criticism for this, most recently coming from Chris “Mad Dog” Russo on Wednesday’s edition of First Take. 

While the rest of the NBA Countdown crew was in their Los Angeles studio for the pregame coverage of the game, Stephen A. was in attendance at Madison Square Garden, being shown hanging out with Spike Lee and offering a “pep talk” to the team before the game.

Chris Russo took issue with this, ripping Smith on First Take as a replay of Stephen A. hanging with Spike Lee rolled in the background.

“Look at this, look at you two! Look at you two, a bunch of dopey Knicks fans at that ridiculous pregame,” said Russo as the footage rolled of Smith and Lee. “By the way Steve, that is not a local show Sunday at three o’clock. That is a national pregame show of the NBA.”

Stephen A. immediately took exception to Russo’s complaint, calling Russo and the rest of his critics “pathetic” for their gripe.

“Time out, time out, don’t sound like one of those pathetic critics,” said Smith. Listen, y’all don’t say anything when I’m hating on the Cowboys. Why the hell are you going to get on me for loving the New York Knicks, who I have been a diehard fan of all my life? Kick rocks, go kick rocks.”

It’s a fair point from both Smith and Russo here.

Russo is absolutely correct that there should be some level on equality when it comes to covering something as important as a Game 7 playoff matchup.

But to be fair to Stephen A., you kind of know what you are getting if you are ESPN putting him in this position to cover his favorite team in a game of this magnitude. He is unapologetic when it comes to his support of his favorite team, and he always has been.

Say what you will of that. But really, the blame here could be on ESPN higher-ups for letting Stephen A. be in attendance to cover the game from courtside in the first place.

[Awful Announcing on X]

About Reice Shipley

Reice Shipley is a staff writer for Comeback Media that graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Sports Media. He previously worked at Barrett Sports Media and is a fan of all things Syracuse sports.