After Mike Greenberg erroneously argued on ESPN’s platforms that the Los Angeles Lakers should want to lose their Play-In game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the conversation made its way back to Darvin Harm. Following the Lakers’ 110-106 win over New Orleans on Tuesday night, a reporter asked the Lakers’ head coach if he heard the chatter that his team would be better off losing the game to avoid Denver.

Ham questioned if people — like Greeny — who thought his team should lose to the Pelicans to avoid the Nuggets just got out of the insane asylum.

“That’s exactly what he should say,” the Get Up host said in response to Ham’s response. “I respect the hell out of him and them for doing what they did last night. Because I stand by my premise.”

But while Greenberg respected Ham’s answer, Stephen A. Smith did something that he apparently never does on First Take.

“I’m very protective of the industry, but every now and then, there’s some weak a** reporters out there that bring up questions like that — talk, TV talk,” said Smith. “Ask a direct question. We didn’t sit up here and suggest that the Lakers should avoid the Denver Nuggets. What we asked was: ‘Were you going to? Because the Denver Nuggets have been whipping your a**.’ They beat you eight straight. It’s been over a year and a half since you recorded a victory against him. That’s what we said.

“You see, this is the kind of stuff that irritates me about our industry sometimes, which I am very, very protective of because I understand that everybody doesn’t have the platforms that we have, guys, and I get it. But when you sit up there in front of a coach and ask a question, could you have the decency to represent the question accurately? People weren’t talking about how the Lakers should throw the game and avoid Denver…”

Shall we roll back the tape?

“..What we were saying is, would they? Do you have the courage to sit up there and say, ‘They’ve been whipping our a**, and we want ’em,’ or are you gonna take the path of easiest resistance? That’s an entirely different question than saying ‘Oh, the public; the media out there was saying you should avoid them,'” continued Smith. “They were not, Darvin Ham — I’m reaching out to the coach of the Lakers. Darvin Ham, that is a lie… Darvin Ham, the media was not saying you should’ve avoid Denver, we were asking, ‘Would you?’ and that was a legitimate question going into last night’s game.”

It’s hard to gather what Smith’s gripe is here.

Smith’s response to the reporter’s question about the Lakers is a confusing mix of defense and deflection. He claims the media wasn’t advocating that the Lakers dodge Denver but then proceeds to rephrase that very idea as a question about their courage. This distinction feels disingenuous, and it’s possible Smith took the question as a veiled criticism of his own comments on First Take when they were really directed toward his colleague in Greenberg.

And Greeny actually said that the Lakers should duck the Nuggets. But Smith’s own comments seemed to contradict this. He essentially rephrased Greenberg’s suggestion by asking if the Lakers had the “courage” to face Denver or would “take the path of least resistance.”

Ultimately, Smith appears to be backtracking from the most extreme take, but his argument ends up supporting the same underlying sentiment.

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About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.