Stephen A. Smith takes absurd jab at Clippers' Kawhi Leonard

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Clippers
Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Clippers / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

Even the Clippers are susceptible to being the target of the mainstream media's desperation to create a headline. 

In a world where everyone has a podcast or a blog, seeking attention has never been more prevalent. With such a jam of analysts in the industry, there's a natural desire to stand out. Former NBA stalwarts like Chandler Parsons and Gilbert Arenas seemingly aim to say something overtly preposterous so it gets aggregated across social media. Traditional journalism is officially an endangered art. With every passing day, it seems like "hot take" culture is here to stay.

Stephen A. Smith is a pioneer of loudmouth sports commentary. He blended the shock and awe of a disc jockey with a natural charm that was easy to fall in love with. This natural charisma helped him become the face of the worldwide leader in sports. The days of being a respected reporter and heralded debater are gone, as he's prioritized clout over coherence. 

Friday's edition of his show First Take saw the latest hyperbolic and mind-numbing Smith rant. During a discussion about the future of the Clippers tandem of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the 56-year-old went off the rails. Rather than focus on the topic, Smith morphed the segment into a verbal tirade against Leonard and his recent shortcomings.

"To basketball analysts out there who praise Kawhi Leonard so much, I'm sick of y'all," Smith said. "He's a big-time basketball player—this isn't about his skills. This is the worst superstar in the history of sports. He is a nightmare. Right around the time he's about to get his money, then he's out there on the court. The second he gets his money, you can't find him."

Kawhi Leonard's Clippers shortcomings don't erase his past accolades

The ignorance is astonishing. Has Leonard's Clippers tenure been a success? Absolutely not, and he does deserve some blame for that. It's hard to blame a player for a myriad of severe injuries, but how he and his camp have handled these challenges has not done him any favors.

Is Leonard still a superstar? Who cares. When he's on the floor, he's a menacing defender who can be the central cog of an elite offense. That has to be worth something. Although a healthy Leonard feels like a myth at this point, his skills are still superb.

No one becomes the face of a franchise by accident. Leonard has a pair of titles and is one of the best two-way players in the league's history. When the time comes, he'll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. That doesn't scream historic failure.

Even if Smith solely focused on the present, Leonard wouldn't even be on the "worst superstar" shortlist in his own sport. Even with his health issues diminishing his stint in LA, he's still contributed to deeper postseason runs than Joel Embiid, Donovan Mitchell, and Zion Williamson. 

Critical thought is lost. Blatant falsehoods rarely have consequences. Leonard can be appropriately ridiculed without having his character and illustrious career slandered for clicks. It's lazy and, frankly, pathetic.