There’s a scene in “The Wire” where Detective Carver, speaking with colleagues about the War on Drugs, says that you can’t call it a war because “wars end.”
Stephen A. Smith and Kevin Durant have reached a similar status in their years-long back-and-forth.
This particular battle began when Smith, on ESPN’s “First Take” earlier this week, said that Michael Jordan is responsible for changing the game of basketball for the worse because he was “so phenomenal that the NBA marketed the individual,” causing the game to be more “individualized — because people wanted to be like Mike.”
Durant panned the clip.
“My theory is that guys like Steve, Skip [Bayless] and Shannon [Sharpe] have changed the game for the worse. Playas like Stephen [Curry] and Michael can only push the game forward,” Durant tweeted,
On Friday’s “First Take,” Smith came back after Durant. First, Smith said that, like Stephon Marbury, whom he also got into a tiff with recently, Durant’s media production team has asked him to appear in a basketball documentary. Why seek his opinion if it’s invalid?
“I’m going to be very respectful because I happen to love Kevin Durant. I think he’s the best player on the planet when healthy and I actually think he’s a very good guy. A bit truculent with this attitude — always got attitude with somebody. It’s just unnecessary sometimes, but I still got love for him,” Smith said. “There’s nothing he can really say to me that’s gonna make me attack him. I think he’s a phenomenal basketball player, a future Hall of Famer, a champion, a two-time NBA Finals MVP. I’ll always have love for him no matter what.
“The only reason I feel the need to address this comment is because where did it come from? When I reached out to KD he didn’t want to answer that question and that’s his prerogative and what he and I exchange between us is our business. But I will tell you this, all I said was that Michael Jordan was so phenomenal that people focused on marketing him and promoting the individual as opposed to the team and that didn’t necessarily help the game of basketball to a certain degree because on many , many occasions we’ve lamented the absence of team basketball. That’s all I was trying to say. Nothing more. I don’t understand where it came from.”
Smith proceeded to channel “The Wolf of Wall Street” to say that he ain’t leaving.
“But I will tell you this, fellas need to get over it, because as I said yesterday on Twitter and I’ll say it again on national television, the Stephen A. Smiths of the world are not going anywhere,” he said. “I’m here now, and there’ll be hundreds if not thousands that will follow. These guys don’t want to talk, they don’t want to be accountable and who the hell are we to tell them anything. So watch the game and shut the hell up and enjoy their greatness and make sure they get paid their money without giving any commentary whatsoever. You want to control the damn narrative all the time. You’re not doing it. You don’t get to get rid of us. We’re here and we’re going to be here.
“Get over it because we’re not going anywhere. I’m not talking about me specifically as an individual. I’m talking about the collective, me, Kendrick Perkins, Ryan Clark, Swagu [Marcus Spears], [Dan] Orlovsky and everybody else in between — and Tim Legler, JJ Redick and all the other guys, we’re not going anywhere. And the last point … I repeatedly said this to players, because I’ve got many cats in the NBA, NFL and beyond the world of professional sports that I’m very cool with. I’ve got them on speed dial, they’ve got me on speed dial. We talk all the time.
“They know I’m not talking about them. But for those like Kevin Durant or Kyrie [Irving] or somebody else that don’t want to talk, please remember something: I get paid to talk about you. I don’t get paid to talk to you. I don’t ever have to speak to any of y’all again in life and I still get to do my job — look at what I see and comment about it. That’s what I get to do. Remember that, when in reality you actually do, because when you’ve had projects you’ve wanted to push forward, you’ve called me to participate. It wasn’t the other way around. I’m gonna leave it at that.”
The two have been squabbling since at least 2015 when Smith linked Durant to the Lakers, Durant called him a liar and accused him of fabricating stories. Smith responded by threatening him to “not make an enemy out of me.”
A wager that Friday would be the last time Durant and Smith mix it up would be a very bad bet.