Fast Don't Lie? ESPN's Stephen A. Smith Denies Using Racial Slur On "First Take"
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" (USATODAY.com, 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" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 10/25).