SBD/October 26, 2012/Media

Fast Don't Lie? ESPN's Stephen A. Smith Denies Using Racial Slur On "First Take"

Stephen A. Smith said because he is from New York, he speaks very fast
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith “denied dropping the N-word” while discussing Lakers G Kobe Bryant Thursday on “First Take,” according to Bob Raissman of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Smith on the show “sarcastically pooh-poohed the idea that Bryant would miss the Lakers’ opener because of a foot injury.” Listening to a replay of his commentary “provides evidence that he voiced the slur.” However, Smith came back on the show later, offering a “vehement denial that he uttered the racial slur.” He “chalked it up to being from New York and speaking ‘very, very fastly’” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/26). Smith said, "There are numerous reports out there that I uttered a word I should not have uttered. I’m going to repeat this one more time: I did not do so. I am a New Yorker and sometimes I speak very, very fastly, and sometimes my words are misconstrued, and I get that. If I wanted to say such a word -- because I work for this network, because this network would never condone such a thing -- I would instantly issue an apology because obviously it would be a huge mistake on my part if I did utter such a word. But I did not.” He added, “This is the second time I’ve had to say I did not utter that word in my career at ‘First Take.’ I hope this is not something I have to revisit in the future. Maybe I need to slow down, make sure I articulate myself clearly and precisely every single word that I utter out of my mouth. But please understand, I did not say the things that they are reporting that I said” ("First Take," ESPN2, 10/25). Despite the denial, ESPN "still cut the word from a rebroadcast of the show" (, 10/25).

NO PUNISHMENT: THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre reported Smith "will not be reprimanded" by ESPN after network execs "huddled for a couple hours" Thursday morning. However, McIntyre wrote it "wouldn’t surprise me if they changed their mind" and put Smith "on the bench for a few days after the public sees his non-apology" (, 10/25).
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