As Knicks fans learned the news that their worst fears had been realized, the only solace they had was that they didn’t have to melt down on live TV about it. Stephen A. Smith wasn’t so lucky, however, as the Knicks’ most vocal supporter who also happens to be an ESPN commentator came in on a Sunday to react to the news that the franchise did not get Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving in free agency.
Smith was predictably upset, but he went through the various stages of grief as word broke that two of the most sought after free agents would instead sign together with the Brooklyn Nets. The first indication that things weren’t going great for Smith came when he posted a video on Twitter that said he had just “got done crying,” with a camera focused on him while he appears to be at the gym.
The video is classic Stephen A., the rising cadence of his voice indicating that he’s furious his favorite team couldn’t do what it had presumably traded Kristaps Porzingis for earlier in the year: to acquire a big free agent in July.
“Somehow, some way I’m just trying to hold it together,” Smith said. “Lifelong Knick fan. Years of mediocrity. I thought that this was going to be it.”
Smith puts his hatted head in his hands at times, trying to reconcile his logical brain with what has happened to James Dolan’s team.
“The New York Knicks, with KD on the Market, with Kyrie on the market. Klay (Thompson) Kemba (Walker). Jimmy Butler,” Smith said, his voice trailing off in angry disbelief, “They can’t get someone to come to Madison Square Garden.”
That the big winner in free agency was the Brooklyn Nets seems to be particularly bad to Stephen A.
“In three years the Brooklyn Nets have accomplished what the New York Knicks have been trying to pull off for half a century,” Smith said, infuriated.
It was, however, just a precursor to his appearance on The Jump, which had Rachel Nichols hosting a five hour free agency special full of literal smoke and analysis. Smith joined the program late in the 7 o’clock hour and let the Knicks have it for not finding a way to make a significant move in free agency’s first day.
“I can’t even put into words my level of disgust,” Smith began, bemoaning the Knicks’ inability to find a superstar who wants to play at MSG.
Perhaps the craziest moment was when Smith claimed he called a Knicks employee and implored them not to try to sign DeMarcus Cousins to a big deal if they failed to get Durant or Kyrie, which now seems like something that’s entirely possible.
“This is not a call asking for anything, this a call telling you, as an organization, that you better not THINK of trying to sell Boogie Cousins,” Smith claims he said. “He ain’t the answer.”
Smith said again on ESPN that the worst thing about this year’s free agency is that the team that did the best is the Nets, in Brooklyn, not Manhattan’s Knicks.
“It’s bad enough that you don’t have Kyrie and you don’t have KD,” Smith said. “But that they go 20 minutes away, in traffic, on Atlantic Avenue.”
It was all classic Stephen A. until Nichols got to the report from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the Knicks did not offer Durant a max contract because of his Achilles injury. That set Smith off for good.
“How stupid can you be as an organization to come out with that?” Smith asked, rhetorically. In Smith’s opinion, that getting out does nothing to help the Knicks or appease fans who are frustrated, like him, that they didn’t land a big free agent. In fact, it does the opposite
“Why would that statement be publicized? It makes them look bad,” Smith said. “More importantly, I think they’re lying.”
Smith then argued his case why Durant is worth the money, saying he’s a “sniper” who doesn’t rely on his athleticism to dominate on the court. For Smith, not offering Durant the max, and leaking it to the public, was a failure all around.
“It’s a joke that they would even put that statement out there and it’s really sad,” Smith said.
The crew on The Jump tried to appease Smith and talk about some players who were rumored to have the Knicks’ interest. It did not go very well.
“Ask me about anything but the Knicks,” Smith said when other targets for the franchise came up. “I’m so done with them right now.”