ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith jumped on fellow analyst Skip Bayless’ ridiculous argument that Thunder guard James Harden was partially to blame for Metta World Peace’s elbow to his head during the game Sunday, calling it “asinine.”
Arguing with Bayless Wednesday morning on ESPN2’s “First Take,” Smith called it “asinine, asi-ten, asi-twelve.”
“Let’s not look at the victim and try to villanize him in anyway,” Smith said. “James Harden did nothing to provoke this.”
Interrupted Bayless, “Yes, he did! Oh, come on!”
Smith: “There is nothing you can do to justify you cold-cocking him with an elbow. … I had an ignorant caller (to his radio show) last night who actually called up to my show and said James Harden should have been suspended. That’s ignorance personified.”
Bayless said the seven-game suspension to Ron Artest (he has quit calling him Peace) was a “touch much” but applauded them for not “giving into the public outcry to severely punish Ron Artest.” He again noted that Harden was partially to blame for getting into Artest’s way and attempting to interrupt his celebration after a dunk in the first half.
ESPN2 commentator Skip Bayless says Oklahoma City Thunder star James Harden is partially to blame for Los Angeles Lakers’ forward Metta World Peace’s hard elbow that left Harden with a concussion during the Thunder-Lakers game Sunday afternoon.
Speaking Monday morning on ESPN2’s “First Take,” Bayless, an Oklahoma City native, said Harden moved into Peace’s path to disrupt his celebration after his dunk in the first half.
Because of the incident, Bayless said he no longer would refer to him as Metta World Peace, but as Ron Artest, his previous name.
“I’m going to give Harden a little bit of the blame here,” Bayless said. “James Harden is known to be a shrewd operator in the NBA already at a young age. He likes to get under the opponent’s skin. He likes to get in Kobe’s face. They got into it in Oklahoma City before the All-Star Game.”
Another “First Take” commentator Wale, a rapper, interrupted, “That’s basketball. That’s competition.”
Bayless: “Clearly James Harden was attempting to disrupt Artest’s chest-pounding celebration at his place, at Staples Center. He just wanted to cut it a little short by getting in front of Artest, just saying stop it. I also think he’s such a shrewd operator that he was hoping that the runaway train that was Artest at that point just might get called for an offensive foul, running over him without looking at him.”
Wale: “You just don’t put yourself in front of Ron Artest and roll the dice.”
Bayless: “Well, he rolled it, baby. Does it justify Artest throwing an elbow? Absolutely not. … But if James Harden had gotten out of the way for one more second and let Artest go by him, we’re not having this conversation.”
Analyst Rob Parker disagreed with Bayless. “It wasn’t contact in a malicious way,” Parker said of Harden. “He didn’t look straight at him or lower his shoulder.”
Melee disputed Bayless’ claim that Harden had a reputation for riling up opponents, calling him a “quiet guy.”
Bayless: “He’s an L.A. guy. He’s from Artesia (High School). He knows how to play the game.”
Bayless said he thought the NBA should suspend Artest for five games, including four playoff games. Parker and Melee said he should be suspended for the entire first round of the playoffs.
“That elbow can not be tolerated,” Parker said. “It is a black eye on the game.”
Bayless recently was criticized on “First Take” by fellow commentator Jalen Rose for overstating his basketball achievement at Northwest Classen High School in Oklahoma City. In a tweet, Bayless said he started on a team that lost in the state finals. According to team statistics, Bayless averaged only 1.4 points a game for the 1970 team and did not score in the 47-42 state championship loss to Norman.
ESPN2 commentator Skip Bayless was quick to cite the Thunder’s 92-77 loss Monday night at the Staples Center as an example as why he thinks the Thunder won’t win the NBA championship this season.
Asked if the loss was a big deal or not on ESPN2’s “First Take” Tuesday morning, Bayless said it was a big deal.
“I don’t even care if it was the Clippers who recently beat the Thunder at Oklahoma City. This is what I don’t like about the Thunder team. What you saw last night is why the Thunder will lose a playoff series. This will happen in a Game 6 or a Game 7. They live and die by the jump shot, too often 3-point jump shots.
“Last night (Kevin) Durant, my favorite player, and (Russell) Westbrook, my least favorite player, combined to go 1 for 12 from 3 — 1 for 12 from 3, you’re probably going to lose.
“After leading at halftime, those two players — they’re supremely talented players, I love Westbrook’s explosiveness — combined to score zero points in the third quarter. What do you think is going to happen then? The home team’s going to pull away in that game.
“In this instance, we have Durant taking a few more shots but it was because Westbrook was so cold, 4 out of 16 from the field. It will happen. He will have one of those nights when he just can’t throw it in the ocean.
“Oklahoma City lost the second half of the game 49-25. They totaled 12 assist. This is my issue with the Thunder. Your point guard Westbrook totaled 3 assists. They relied on playing one-on-one and jump shooting. If your shots don’t fall, you’re in trouble.”
“First Take” analyst Rob Parker didn’t think the loss was a big deal, calling it just one of those games. “You’re going to have those kind of nights. I’m not that concerned,” he said. “The
Clippers are coming on. They got the Thunder on a bad night.”