First, there’s this paragraph from the excellent ESPN series on Jeremy Lin:
“Lin was bothered by suggestions that leaked out that some thought he had developed a sense of entitlement and become big-headed and arrogant during the height of his fame, and that he had rubbed his teammates the wrong way. He also didn’t like the idea emerging from some corners that he had sold out his teammates by not playing in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference first round against the Miami Heat even though he was “85 percent” healthy.”
reporting initiating these rumors? Stephen A. Smith.
And then, this post, making the rounds of the conspiracy world (a world that I frequently admire), which is so truthy that it has to be truth.
“Here’s what you need to know about Stephen A. Smith: Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has become a huge player very quickly in the representation of NBA players. This started with Lebron James, but now includes many if not most of the league’s superstars along with lots of other smaller fish. You may have heard of William Wesley. He is a part of CAA. CAA represents Carmelo Anthony, Mark Warkentien (advisor to Glenn Grunwald). The Knicks forced Woodson to switch to CAA before extending his contract. JR Smith is also represented by CAA. MSG itself uses CAA to attract sponsorships. Eddy Curry and Renaldo Balkman were also repped by CAA, and Isiah Thomas has close ties to the agency.
Getting back to Steven A. Smith — Smith knew a full week before anyone else had confirmation that Lebron was going to Miami. How did he know this? CAA of course. He traded his journalist soul (if he ever had one) in exchange for information about perhaps the biggest sports story of the millennium. In return, all he has to do is sell the angle that CAA wants him to sell. CAA, of course, wants to grow the brand of its clients and to keep its clients happy. Before revising their statements, Smith and Melo seemed rather unhappy about sharing the spotlight with Lin, so that’s one factor. Likewise, it doesn’t behoove Anthony and therefore CAA to have Lin drawing all the popularity in NYC. Anthony, like Lebron, wants to be a legacy player, the kind of guy who still has his name on a shoe a decade after he’s retired. That’s the modern NBA goal — to be the next Jordan, not necessarily on the basketball court (unless it’s absolutely necessary), but definitely from a marketing standpoint….
My opinion, first of all, is that Dolan still believes that the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony was a steal, probably because CAA gave him the impression that it was only through his kindnesses to their agency (and not because NYC gave up a ton of assets) that he was able to acquire Anthony. JR Smith’s cheap deals, too, were probably payback for Dolan’s kindnesses to CAA. Who knows what level of under the table stuff there is going on between MSG and CAA.
So, when CAA’s plans for Carmelo to be that Jordan level guy get threatened by Jeremy Lin, who has other representation, my guess is not too long after the gears were already turning to re-engineer the team so that Anthony could be front and center. First, it was D’Antoni, another guy not represented by CAA. His preferred style of play was A) Allowing Lin to thrive, and B) Preventing Melo from getting the requisite 28 PPG. As that plan was in danger of failure simply due to massive fan interest, Lin had to be removed from the equation entirely.
Again not realizing he was being played, Dolan accommodated CAA and let Lin go for nothing. So that’s a big part of why all this has happened, and why the media, especially Stephen A (whose profile, thanks to CAA, is much bigger now) is slandering Lin and really has been slandering Lin ever since he broke out. Go look. You’ll see he held out as long as he can with “flash in the pan” theories. You’ll also see he called for D’Antoni’s head before he was fired. here’s a little love fest he gives for J.R. Smith. Here he already Knows MDA will be gone, and although he denies it, the headline and article’s content clearly intends to portray D’Antoni as being at fault.”
Ok, some of that is probably too eager to connect some of the dots (it’s me again,btw, the unrepentant homer and not the long quote from the link, a source that is currently anonymous). The espn.com piece on CAA by Henry Abbott is the kind of sports journalism I want to read. I want to learn things that I can’t know watching tv. And I want to believe it. His piece explains a lot.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find Stephen A. on the CAA website’s list of clients, although I did find most of ESPN’s media personalities, including Chris Broussard. Does it matter that Broussard–who, unlike someone like Linda Cohn (also represented by CAA) is not reading a script but is reporting an ‘inside scoop’–is represented by the same agency as most of the Miami Heat, or Carmelo Anthony? Remember, it was Broussard who said on espn that D’Antoni lost the support of the whole Knicks team. Remember, that made absolutely no sense then, and a lot of us wondered if he was just speaking as Carmelo’s mouthpiece….
Is it because guys like Stephen A. Smith and Chris Broussard, with no journalistic integrity or talent, have to rely on sucking off superstars that they now are shilling for Carmelo Anthony? It’s obviously how Broussard got the Lebron scoop 2 years ago; and why Broussard said that the whole Knick team “quit” on D’Antoni, when everyone knows that only one guy quit (Carmelo). Now Smith is relying on unnamed sources within the organization (otherwise known as Carmelo or friend of Carmelo) to attack Jeremy Lin.
But no worries, because Carmelo’s got the team he wants. Good luck to him–If he has an all-star year, his team could win 48 games and maybe 2 playoff games. Sounds a lot like Denver.
That’s the word Stephen A. Smith used, while commenting on the Jeremy Lin contract situation. Hey Stephen A. Is it “obvious” because you know that they are friends? Or, is it that they are both…Asian? (Forget that one is from China and the other is from Palo Alto…it’s all the same, right Stephen A.?)
Everywhere you look in the media (ok, at least the 4-5 places I look, and where I look=everywhere), that’s the theme. This is LeBron’s time, his championship, and the Heat are on the verge. It’s a new narrative because just two weeks ago, most of these same people were ready to break Miami up. Didn’t Chris Broussard say Miami will never win with this team? Or was it Jon Barry? We know what Stephen A. Smith said–”they are DONE!” (Though hand it to Israel Gutierrez, Miami’s biggest homer reporter, for being right so far. But I’m guessing he picked Miami last year too. His latest defense of Wade against Durant is worthy of this blog’s defense of Ray Allen).
The guy I don’t get is Magic. His problem isn’t that, as an ex-superstar, he’s just not good on tv (a la Shaq). His problem is that he doesn’t seem very knowledgeable about basketball. Most recently, after laying into Russell Westbrook in game 2, he applauds his performance based in game 3. Based on what? Every erratic tendency Westbrook has was on greater display in game 3. He made 3 consecutive bad decisions in the important turning point moment of the third quarter, which led to his being benched. I’m a Westbrook fan, after game 2 and even 3. I just don’t get what Magic is seeing for him to change his mind. And why is Magic, with all his years of experience, having his basketball IQ kicked by Brian Windhorst at ESPN, a guy who I’m guessing never stepped foot on an NBA court?
LeBron does deserve his moment, if it comes. He’s the best complete player in the league. But there are some problems with this new narrative. First, he isn’t playing great in the 4th quarter–he’s playing well, but he’s disappearing for long stretches, just like last year. In game 2, he was scoreless for much of the quarter. He made one key shot down the stretch. I’m not criticizing him. But it’s not like he reversed himself in some incredible way. If he’s called for the foul on KD at the end, and the Heat lose, is the narrative that he played well in the 4th? In game 3, he also was fairly quiet, particularly after showing in the first half how completely dominant he can be.
LeBron is doing what he’s always done, which is a lot of everything. But he’s also continuing to do a lot of what he’s always done in the 4th quarter, which is not take over. Unfair? Probably. But the 1990s-2010s superstar in the NBA is someone who takes over the 4th quarter–Bird, Jordan, Reggie, Kobe, Durant. LeBron is more like Magic, Malone, maybe even Ewing–dominant over the course of the game, but not the big 4th quarter guy.
So, if the old narrative continues to be right, the team that gets criticized for being x, y, and z, comes out and does the opposite tonight. Which means, Thunder win this one by 8, and Wednesday’s narrative is 1), the fearlessness of youth coming out of Oklahoma city, and 2), is LeBron losing his moment to Durant for a generation?