Overtime: Stephen A. Knows All


Popular sports commentator, Stephen A. Smith made some controversial comments on Wizards’ player Russell Westbrook’s game. (Courtesy of Instagram)

I find that listening to sports commentators can be kind of bothersome. I like to assess someone’s play by myself, and then I’ll listen to other people’s comments on the player or game. The one and only reason why Stephen A. Smith has received my attention is because of his memes. 

Recently, Smith commented about Washington Wizards player Russell Westbrook after he had the first-ever recorded 35-point and a 20-assist triple-double in NBA history. Westbrook has been able to average a triple-double in his last 20 games, and he doesn’t look like he’s slowing down any time soon.

While I might be a little partial, Westbrook has always pushed to do hard work regardless of how his team is performing. The Wizards are 20-33 as of today, and it doesn’t look like the Playoffs will be in their future. Because they haven’t been able to finish a game for the win, the Wizards have found themselves in this difficult situation even with Westbrook and Bradley Beal, a player that averages almost 31 points a game to lead the NBA.

Smith notes Westbrook’s failure in his commentary show, “First Take.” He said, “Westbrook’s numbers last night mean absolutely nothing to me because even though that’s great numbers, that’s what Westbrook can do.” Here, Smith says what everyone is feeling because Westbrook has remained dedicated in all areas of his game. It is why he was named MVP in 2017.

Smith goes on, “You’ve played with some great players over the years, talent, and not a single title to show for it.”

So what is the issue? While Smith may be right, Westbrook still has put up numbers that no one else has been able to do for such a long time since Oscar Robertson in 1962. Yet, when it comes to discussions about basketball’s biggest names, Westbrook cannot be included in these discussions. 

Westbrook responded to Smith, noting how commentators have influence that is “way bigger than basketball.” He said he won’t “allow people to create narratives. […] A championship don’t change my life.” 

One thing that so many commentators and spectators like Smith fail to realize is the personal impact that they have on a player when they make comments that can potentially bring a player down. Westbrook knows he doesn’t have a ring, and while that should be his goal, he also knows that it is not everything. 

He plays his heart out every time he is on the court, and fans, coaches, and players alike notice this. It is hard to ignore the type of work that players like Westbrook put in. Championships are not the only thing that matters.