Connect with us


Bob Raissman: Stephen A. Smith hurts ESPN’s credibility by cheerleading for Knicks



This NOT just in: Stephen A. Smith is a true (orange and) blue Knicks fan.

It matters not what broadcasting platform he’s delivering the word from. Nor does it matter if SAS is involved in a non-sports controversy. As long as the Knickerbockers are alive in the playoffs, the time is right for Smith to hide his press credentials and go gaga for Team Dolan.

Yet it’s not like SAS ignores reality. Smith said the referees should have recognized a Knicks mugging of Tyrese Maxey down the stretch of Game No. 2 and put him on the foul line. This display of objectivity was not enough to placate Sixers fans who view SAS as a member in good standing of Knicks Celebrity Row. Philly viewers know what they are going to get from Smith when they watch ESPN’s “NBA Countdown.”

For those of us who don’t care who wins, SAS frequent Knicks Shill-O-Thons have become part of the on-air package he delivers. Smith’s pom-pom waving on ESPN’s “First Take” or his own YouTube show, two offerings driven by SAS’ personality and opinions, are easier to take. On these two shows shtick is valued as much (maybe even more) as substance.

But when Smith goes into his “orange and blue skies” routine on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown,” the game night studio show, it’s cringe worthy.

Here’s why: For years the program has featured a revolving door cast. The suits couldn’t get it right. This time around, Countdown’s priority was supposed to be about being an NBA news program that is journalistically sound. The show’s anchor, Malika Andrews, typifies that philosophy. So does reporter Adrian Wojnarowski and veteran columnist Michael Wilbon.

While SAS has a well-documented history as a sports columnist and NBA beat reporter in Philly (he also worked at the New York Daily News), his Knicks cheerleading on “Countdown” does absolutely nothing to enhance the credibility of the show, which also features Kendrick Perkins and Bob Myers.

The suits know the value SAS brings to “Countdown” through his opinions, humor and passion. Nonetheless, they can’t deliver on their promise to be “journalistically sound” when Smith is openly rooting for one of the participating playoff teams.

Although they are trying, ESPN brass can’t have it both ways.


Reports claiming JJ Redick is interviewing for the Charlotte Hornets coaching gig are bad news for ESPN.

Redick, who, with minimal broadcast experience joined ESPN’s No. 1 NBA team after Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson were dumped, was placed on a fast lane to stardom, now may have to leave TV immediately if he goes to Charlotte.

If Redick moves into coaching, ESPN should not replace him. Instead, the network should go with a two-person booth featuring current analyst Doris Burke along with veteran play-by-play man Mike Breen. The idea of bringing in a third wheel in at this stage of the playoffs would leave the impression that ESPN is using the NBA’s biggest stage to audition a third voice.

Not a swell idea.


On his new “Talk 2 Me” podcast, Mark Jackson indicates his critique of NBA referees could be a reason why he lost his gig on ESPN’s No. 1 NBA broadcast team.

“What I don’t need and I’m tired of — and probably one of the reasons I’m not calling games anymore — is the Last Two Minute Report,” Jax said on the podcast. “…I hold players accountable for mistakes, I hold coaches accountable for mistakes, I’m going to hold referees accountable for mistakes.”

At the time of his, and Jeff Van Gundy’s departure from ESPN, Adam Silver said the league didn’t stick its beak into the national telecasts. It was hard believing that then and, with Jackson’s recent take, even harder to believe now.


When it comes to Aaron Judge, sports talk radio, aka The Valley of the Stupid, is environmentally sound.

Judge goes into a slump and the VOS recycles topics. Gasbags pull one from column “A.” They ask: Should fans boo Judge?

Then, miracles occur. Bloviators paid to talk mostly about sports suddenly become doctors. Like Keith McPherson. On FAN, he said “Judge has got to be hurt.” Unfortunately, he did not specify the Captain’s ailment.

Nor did Dr. McPherson reveal where he practices medicine.


In a recent (but certainly not the first) celebration of himself, Michael Kay assessed his own radio skills.

“I’m the only one willing to go out on a limb and make great radio,” Kay said on ESPN-98.7. While other Gasbags would challenge that statement, we wondered what his “partners,” Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg were feeling?

For them, was this “Kay being Kay?”

“Kay pumping himself up?” Or, “Kay being delusional,” Or, Kay “doing shtick.”

After all, DLG, through his foaming-at-the-mouth rants, has been out on many limbs. And Rosenberg, who regularly mixes it up with the masses over positions he has taken, is no stranger to walking the high wire.

Conclusion: Me thinks DLG and Rosenberg should not hold their breath waiting for Kay to say he appreciates them. For he will be too busy “out on a limb” making “great radio.”


One of the misplaced reactions to last Saturday’s John Sterling tribute at the Stadium, came from fans, and some media, who took the Yankees to task over the quality of gifts presented to the long-time radio voice. Very petty. … Well-spent hour-plus listening to Christopher (Mad Dog) Russo’s SXM interview with Peter King, the recently retired national NFL writer (FMIA, Sports Illustrated, Newsday). The scribe, who also made it on TV, was a regular on Doggie’s show since 2008. That spot is going to be missed. … The extent YES will go to put viewers inside the game was again on display Monday. Great audio (OK, the sparse crowd didn’t hurt) picked up the first inning argument between home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt and Aaron Boone after the manager was ejected over comments made by a fan sitting behind the Bombers dugout. … For all who care, let it be known that after the Knicks beat Philly in Game No. 2, Gordon Damer, on ESPN-98.7, said the “series is over.” … The Thursday SXM argument over Bill Belichick between Mad Dog Russo and Mike Lombardi was more compelling than Boone vs. Wendelstedt.

* * *


It wasn’t Wilson’s fault Joe Douglas misread the QB’s potential wasting a premium draft pick on him. Once reality set in, the media piled on the bewildered quarterback. Wilson, and Robert Saleh, were out front taking the heat while the GM hid under his desk.


Turns out the Washington Commanders idea to take the top four NFL QB prospects to Topgolf was an inspiring and unique twist. No reason for haters to pile on just because they always slice.


What Brandon Tierney said: “The Islanders are so classy.”

What Brandon Tierney meant to say: “The Isles send me and Sal [Licata] a lot of free stuff.”

Continue Reading