Stephen A. Smith on First Take Photo credit: ESPN

Stephen A. Smith called Michael Malone out for his disrespectful response after the Denver Nuggets head coach got testy with a reporter.

Despite home court advantage and leading by as many as 20 points in the second half of Game 7, the Denver Nuggets’ quest to defend their NBA champion was stopped by the Minnesota Timberwolves Sunday night. Following the game, beat writer Bennett Durando of The Denver Post asked Malone, “How hard is it to absorb a loss like this after going ahead by 20?” But the Nuggets coach wasn’t having it, blasting it as a “stupid a**” question.

“Next question, man,” Malone said with disgust. “The season is over. That’s what’s hard. F*** being up 20. The season’s over. You don’t understand that. The season’s over. It’s hard. Stupid a** questions.”

Monday morning on ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith defended the reporter’s question and criticized Malone for his profane response.

“Respectfully sir, that was not a dumba** question,” Smith said. “Actually, it was a very respectful question. You were up by 20. You did end up blowing that lead. It was a Game 7. You’re the reigning defending NBA champions. You’re on your home court. You won three straight to take a 3-2 lead. You got annihilated by 45 points in Game 6, you come back for Game 7, you’re up 20 and you all lose to a younger team.

“The reporter was very, very respectful…it is not beyond the pale for a reporter to ask you, ‘What are your emotions like?’ because that is a little bit different than losing a nail-biter…I thought the reporter was very respectful in the question that he asked and I thought that was a complete overreaction and a disrespectful reaction by coach Malone.”

Emotions were undoubtedly running high for Malone. Having to sit and answer questions minutes after watching your season crumble can’t be easy. But it’s one thing to offer a curt or even testy response, it’s another to disparage the reporter for asking a fair question.

While Smith and others like Kendrick Perkins may have taken issue with Malone’s response, the reporter who asked the question wasn’t bothered by the answer.

“Wanna be clear, nothing taken personally here,” Durando posted after the exchange. “He was hot. Season just ended in brutal way. Was a long pause after a short answer so I followed up. Pretty standard questions, but Malone has courteous and respectful rep w/media. Toughest presser of the year, we all snap sometimes.”

Malone may not have wanted to answer what he thought was a “stupid a**” question after the loss, but his demeanor while responding showed exactly why asking “how hard is it to absorb a loss like this?” was timely. Durando asked a fair question, and garnered a notable response, even if it was disrespectful.

[First Take]

About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to