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Press Coverage: Stephen A. Smith On His LeBron Report, Inquirer Split & Future On TV

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↵This column was going to lead with the busy week for Stephen A. Smith, from leaving the Philadelphia Inquirer to getting heat from other reporters for his report that LeBron James and Chris Bosh were going to Miami to team up with Dwyane Wade to the rumors that Stephen A. could be the star of his own TV show again soon. ↵

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↵A very well placed source mentioned that despite all the public outpouring of affection between Smith and the brass at the Inqy, the paper had been looking for an excuse to dump Smith since an arbitrator had ruled that he was wrongfully terminated in 2007 and reinstated him this past November with full back pay. Rumor had it, Smith's appearance on The View, where he talked about Barack Obama and other political matters, was enough for the Inquirer to threaten a potential breach of contract – it had been stipulated that Smith could not go on television to talk politics while writing for the sports section of the paper – and that the appearance expedited the process for the two to officially part ways. ↵

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↵In an effort to avoid yet another slam story on the boisterous media mogul, I reached out to Smith for comment. He did more than comment. He gave me 35 minutes of his time. You can listen to our entire conversation here. ↵

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↵We spoke about many topics, including the James/Wade/Bosh report and his departure from the Inquirer which was, to his admission, very amicable. It turns out, he ostensibly only returned to the paper while the settlement was being hashed out and never intended to stay forever. The last six months (or so), he was just writing because the process was taking longer than anticipated. He stressed that he loves the paper, loved working there as long as he did and really respects many of the writers, including the great Bill Lyon. But as soon as he could reach settlement, he was out of there and heading to the pundit chairs of cable television. Both sides actually are happy about this one. ↵

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↵Here are two pull-outs from the interview, first on his future plans: ↵ ↵

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↵⇥DL: Now that you're done with the Inquirer, do you see yourself as TV/Radio Stephen A. Smith or do you see yourself getting back into writing? ↵⇥

↵⇥SAS: I see myself all three. It's all three that I've been doing. I definitely see myself getting my own television show, sometime in the near future. ↵⇥

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↵⇥DL: Is that the Showtime (rumor) or is it (something different)? ↵⇥

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↵⇥SAS: Showtime, we're still in discussions. It's a bit premature to really get into it, but we are in discussions about me potentially having my own weekly show. That is absolutely accurate. We're still discussing it. I'll know more by the beginning of August. I'll know more, whether or not that's going to be official. That's number one. ↵⇥

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↵⇥I definitely intend – I always want to have my own television and my own radio show, I'm getting ready to start writing my own book, and I definitely want to continue to write. I don't know if I want to continue…I'm not ruling anything out – it's all about what opportunity is the best opportunity for me, but I definitely will always write in some capacity. I don't know if it will be to the level of what I was doing at the Inquirer in terms of writing three or four times a week or anything like that. But I’m going to always keep my feet in the writing game, there is no denying that. ↵⇥

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↵Next, his candid reply to all the backlash he received after reporting the LeBron/Wade/Bosh team-up in Miami: ↵
↵⇥DL: You mentioned that people get on you for who you are, not what you say. You said last week…and I have the tweet you sent out here, "I just reported on my show that LeBron James is headed to S. Beach (with Chris Bosh) to team with Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley." ↵⇥

↵⇥Now, obviously that didn't happen… ↵⇥

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↵⇥SAS: Uh….we don't know that yet! ↵⇥

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↵⇥DL: It didn't happen yet, it potentially could happen, but so could 17,000 other things and you understand that. What you wrote a couple of days later was "I know when I reported LeBron and Bosh going to Miami, that was going to happen. They all wanted it. If it doesn't happen now, you're learning the reasons why." Now, Stewart Mandel from Sports Illustrated and many other people in our industry took issue with that. ↵⇥

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↵⇥SAS: They should. ↵⇥

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↵⇥DL: Mandel even called it "revisionist journalism" which I agree with, because it sounded like, based on your comments, this was a done deal, you are reporting that it is going to happen. To come back three days later and say, well it was going to happen at the time that's not like being pregnant and having a miscarriage. ↵⇥

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↵⇥SAS: But you have to listen to my response: Nobody is making any excuses. If LeBron James ends up going to New York or Cleveland, Dan, I'm not going to be hard to find. I was wrong. My source, my source on this particular story, wasn't the money I thought he was and has been for more than a decade. PERIOD. ↵⇥

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↵⇥Nobody is making any excuses. That's what I'm trying to say. I, I would say that it would hurt me, but I would say, also, that I'm not going to be so hurt if the man ends up going to New York, because that's where I'm from and I think New York desperately needs him. ↵⇥

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↵⇥At the same time, I reported what I thought was money. I thought it was a given that the guy was going to Miami. There isn't an insider, there isn't a person reporting on the NBA, that has never been wrong. I was wrong. If LeBron James ends up not going to Miami, I was wrong. No damned excuses. And not only that, I'm not going to be hard to find about it either. ↵⇥

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↵⇥My only response, outside of that, is simply this: if people want to vilify me? Go right ahead. I will deserve it…on this particular story. But it's amazing how people will use that as an excuse to sort of question what I've done over the last week since I've reported that story. ↵⇥

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↵Smith's persecution complex does come up throughout the show, inasmuch as my challenge that he's ripped more than the likes of Tony Kornhesier and other celebrities media types who end up on TV. We also debate his celebrity status, among other things, in a conversation where he tries to convince me he's not a star. It's like a "rabbit season, duck season" debate, except I'm not sure who was Daffy and who was Bugs. ↵

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↵Other topics that we discuss include, but are definitely not limited to: Allen Iverson's retirement and how he reported the news, then wrote a column saying he didn't believe it; his colleagues who write negative things about him and how he never slams his colleagues; and whether or not he was wrongfully terminated (a conversation that spent a great amount of time talking about the one time he filed a story via Blackberry, which he noted was on a vacation day from the paper while doing the NBA draft for ESPN. Whether the lead NBA voice for a paper should have taken a vacation day when his local team had a top-10 pick and a local college player was a top story line is addressed and thoroughly discussed. ↵

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↵Like him or hate him, you cannot deny that he will defend himself vigorously. You have to give him that. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.