Stephen A. Smith is widely known for making controversial, hot takes on ESPN’s First Take. Takes that get many people shaking their heads, clapping back at him in response, or both. This time, his recent comments about Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard have landed him in the crosshairs of JJ Redick. Redick did not take kindly to Smith’s statements saying that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer needs to “force” Leonard into retirement because he can’t be relied on.
Redick joined Smith on today’s episode of First Take, and he did not hold back:
“I mean this in the nicest way possible… but its very obvious that you have never played zero high-level basketball and you do not understand the requirements of doing that. … A sprained knee for someone who has torn a quad tendon and who has torn their ACL is very different than playing on a hobbled ankle in the 1970s. It’s a terrible analogy.”
Kawhi recently suffered a torn meniscus after battling in the first two games of the playoffs. An unfortunate turn of events, to be sure, but hardly is it something that should warrant the man being forced into retirement. The whole notion screams absurd. JJ went on to explain that Leonard’s work ethic is second-to-none and that the Clippers can’t necessarily afford to let him go.
“This guy gets after it. I understand the frustration with the ‘load management’ issue… You have not had any empathy for someone who has came back from two major leg injuries. … I knew you were going to go off the rails here. The idea of getting rid of [him] I don’t know what the options are. Let’s keep in mind they’re opening a new arena … They’ve got 1,160 toilets… they need people to use ’em.”
Glad that JJ stepped up to check SAS. The man gets away with saying just about anything for ratings.
— First Take (@FirstTake) April 26, 2023