There’s a scene in The Wire where Detective Carver, talking to colleagues about the war on drugs, says you can’t call it a war because “wars end.”
Stephen A. Smith and Kevin Durant have achieved similar status through their years of back-and-forth.
That particular struggle began when Smith said on ESPN’s “First Take” earlier this week that Michael Jordan was responsible for changing the game of basketball for the worse because he was “so phenomenal that the NBA marketed the individual” that caused the game was “more individualized – because people wanted to be like Mike”.
Durant waved the clip.
“My theory is that guys like Steve, Skip [Bayless] and Shannon [Sharpe] changed the game for the worse. Playas like Stephen [Curry] and Michael can only push the game forward,” Durant said tweeted.
Smith returned to Durant for Friday’s first take. First, Smith said that Durant’s media production team asked him to appear in a basketball documentary, as did Stephon Marbury, with whom he had also recently fallen out. Why seek his opinion if it’s invalid?
“I will be very respectful because I love Kevin Durant. I think he’s the best player on the planet when he’s healthy and I even think he’s a very good guy. A bit unruly with that attitude – always have an attitude towards someone. It’s just unnecessary sometimes, but I still have love for him,” Smith said. “There’s nothing he can really say to me that would 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 will always love him no matter what.
“The only reason I feel I need to address that comment is where did it come from? When I approached KD he would not answer that question and that is his prerogative and what he and I share between us is our business. But I’ll 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 some degree because many, many times we have lamented the lack of team basketball. That’s all I wanted to say. Nothing more. I don’t understand where it came from.”
Smith went on to channel “The Wolf of Wall Street” to say he’s not leaving.
“But I’m telling you the boys have to get over this because like I said on Twitter yesterday and I’m saying it again on national television, the Stephen A. Smiths of the world are not going anywhere,” he said. “I am here now, and hundreds if not thousands will follow. These guys don’t want to talk, they don’t want to be held accountable and who the hell are we to tell them anything. So watch the game and shut up and enjoy their greatness and make sure they get their money paid without leaving any comment. You want to control the fucking narrative all the time. you don’t You can’t get rid of us. We are here and we will be here.
“Get over it because we’re not going anywhere. I am not specifically speaking of myself 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’ve said this over and over to the players because I have a lot of cats in the NBA, NFL and outside of the pro sports world that I’m very happy with. I got them on speed dial, they got me on speed dial. We talk all the time.
“You know I’m not talking about you. But for people like Kevin Durant or Kyrie [Irving] or someone else who doesn’t want to talk, please think of something: I’m getting paid to talk about you. I don’t get paid to talk to you. I’ll never ever need to speak to you all again and I can still get my work done – take a look at what I see and comment. I can do that. Keep that in mind if you actually do it, because if you had projects you wanted to move forward with, you’ve called me to be a part of them. It wasn’t the other way around. I’ll leave it at that.”
The two have been at odds since at least 2015, when Smith linked Durant to the Lakers, calling Durant a liar and accusing him of fabricating stories. Smith responded by threatening “not to make an enemy of me.”
A bet that Friday would be the last time Durant and Smith mix it up would be a very bad bet.