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Chris Graham: Throwing stones at Linsanity

If you watched ESPN at all this past weekend, then you know what Stephen A. Smith thinks about apparently soon-to-be-former New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin.

He isn’t worth $30 million in 2014. (As if Lin and Lin alone will trigger the luxury tax.) He didn’t play hurt down the stretch in 2012 for the Knicks, and should have. (Without a guaranteed contract, I wouldn’t have either.) He should have shown some loyalty to the Knicks since they gave him a chance to play after he’d been cut twice by other teams. (Despite the fact that the Knicks were thisclose to cutting him loose, too, and only inserted Lin into the lineup after every other breathing point guard in the Big Apple went down to injury.)

The contract tender from the Houston Rockets is “ridiculous” – actually, that’s Carmelo Anthony’s term, per Newsday, but the monologues from Stephen A. said everything but that exact word.

Loyalty, in particular, is an interesting concept with Smith. Smith sure was loyal to the first outfit that gave him anything resembling stature. The Philadelphia Inquirer tried to wiggle out of an, ahem, “ridiculous” contract with Smith that paid him $125,000 a year to write 75 columns in the wake of the hiring of a new leadership team that thought paying a sportswriter upwards of $1,600 a column in the face of declining newspaper readership made no sense. Smith successfully sued the paper to get his job back, though the two sides eventually (and mutually) parted ways about a year later.

Smith, you may remember, also left ESPN in 2008 after his contract expired, at least in part due to issues involving money. (Smith also cited a desire to branch out from sports to writing and commenting on politics, pop culture and more.)

No issues there from my standpoint – Smith did what was best for himself in both situations. And he’s back on ESPN, obviously, and seems to be doing quite well, if only judging by the face time he gets on the various platforms that ESPN has at its disposal.

How is Jeremy Lin doing what is best for him in his situation any different than Smith fighting the Inquirer and ESPN for every last dime he could get? That’s a good question.

And that leaves aside for the moment the question of how valuable Smith is to the world of sports journalism when it seems his main contribution to the Lin story is to parrot the grumblings of anonymous Knicks insiders who now realize that they’re going to lose their point guard of the future because they didn’t handle his contract negotiations at all the right way.

Your average college-newspaper columnist would recognize the noise from the Knicks for what it is and call the brass on the carpet for engaging in that kind of nasty disinformation. Smith, wrapping it all up in a tidy bow and presenting it as received wisdom from on high, is a sycophant at best, and at worst a jilted jock-sniffer who shouldn’t be anywhere nearer a locker room, postgame press briefing or broadcast microphone than any other member of the public who buys a ticket to a game.

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Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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