Stephen A. Smith thinks he can score against LeBron James. Screengrab via ESPN.

It’s the middle of May. The NBA Playoffs are in full swing. So are the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The WNBA season debuted to phenomenal viewership. And oh by the way, Scottie Scheffler got arrested during a traffic jam on the way to the PGA Championship. So what is ESPN talking about? Stephen A. Smith doing battle against LeBron James in a 1-0n-1 game.

It all started on First Take Thursday morning. The studio crew watched a clip from Stephen A.’s personal podcast where he has delighted in answering audacious questions that certainly lean more viral in nature. All well and good. It’s his podcast, his platform, and if he has a strategy that talking about ridiculous subjects like Pokemon or scoring against LeBron that helps his show, so be it. Even some TV time on First Take would be reasonable so the entire set can have some laughs about it.

But then, as ESPN is prone to do, it went completely overboard with the topic.

But only was Stephen A. vs LeBron debated on First Take, it even made its way to the pregame show for the Game 6 Timberwolves-Nuggets showdown in the Western Conference Semifinals. With 13 minutes to go until tip-off, the ESPN set was locked in to way more important things than the game itself, dissecting SAS’s game and what he could do against one of the GOATs.

But wait, there’s more! Mike Greenberg even brought it up on his radio show on Friday morning (yes, he was actually hosting!) and spent a good few minutes on the topic of Stephen A. Smith squaring off against LeBron James.

This is sometimes where ESPN goes off the rails. Instead of one, mostly fun segment where this preposterous idea could have been laughed at and then everyone else could move on, it keeps going to the well time and time again. And usually, it’s some insular obsession that only ESPN has, like this one with Stephen A. Smith playing against LeBron James in a fictional game of 1-on-1 basketball where SAS has a 99-0 lead in a race to 100. Hopefully nobody else on planet earth was still actually thinking about this topic when Greenberg was talking about it on Friday morning.

Smith certainly doesn’t lack for airtime or influence at ESPN, do we really need to devote several segments across multiple programs that have such a ridiculous premise? You can understand ESPN trying to argue that TNT does stuff like this all the time with the Inside the NBA crew. But while most of their humor comes off as self-effacing and legitimately funny, this came off as self-aggrandizing and puzzling. And it’s even more puzzling considering the same people will have a debate about the NBA struggling to find its next great superstar when it spends more time talking about Stephen A. Smith’s game than anyone else besides LeBron James.

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to