1. Thank you, Stephen A. Smith.
The ESPN talking head helped prove the point I was trying to make in Tuesday’s Traina Thoughts when I wrote the following about the network firing Paul Pierce:
There’s also a little bit of “Jordan Rules” going on here. If Pierce were a top ESPN talent, he would’ve been suspended. Remember when Tony Kornheiser criticized Hannah Storm’s wardrobe choices? That got Tony a suspension. One ESPN personality personally attacking another ESPN personality seems much worse than a guy doing an R-rated Instagram Live.
Right on cue, Stephen A. blasted ESPN on Tuesday’s First Take over some meaningless ranking of NBA players.
“This is the stuff that diminishes the credibility of ESPN,” Smith ranted. “This is our list, right? Am I correct about this? I believe it’s our list. Yes, it is. What the hell? ESPN needs to drug test anybody that had something to do with this list. It made no sense.”
Smith then went on to scream some stuff about LaMelo Ball, Devin Booker, Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell before going into full performance artist mode to bash ESPN again.
“What the hell is going on?” he asked. “I believe that ESPN should call security right now and go to whoever put this list together on ESPN.com. Line ‘em up and test every one of them. Every one of them! Somebody’s out of it. You gotta be kidding me. This don’t make any sense right here.”
Since Smith is a pro at this schtick, he was smart enough to turn to humor by using the drug testing line, but if you think that any ESPN personality can get away with calling the network’s credibility into question, think again.
Even with tongue in cheek, ESPN does not want anyone at the network, including its top performance artist to joke about “credibility.” It’s a powerful word. Plus, I’m sure the writers of the list were thrilled to hear they are responsible for hurting the credibility of the most powerful sports media company in the world.
But because everyone at every sport media company has its own set of rules, Stephen A. knows he can get away with it.
2. This week’s brand-new Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by yours truly features an interview with New York Post sports media columnist Andrew Marchand. Some of the topics discussed include whether Ian Eagle or Jim Nantz should call the Final Four for CBS/Turner, how Jim Nantz’s contract negotiations went with CBS and how both sides feel about his new deal, ESPN’s decision to fire NBA analyst Paul Pierce after he posted an Instagram Live video of himself partying with strippers, Kirk Herbstreit blasting ESPN colleague Dan Orlovsky over Orlovsky’s comments about Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, how Jim Rome’s career stacks up against other radio hosts and much more.
3. While most sports and leagues have suffered ratings dips since the pandemic started, the NCAA Women’s Tournament title game between Arizona and Stanford bucked the trend for ESPN.
4. Why can’t all athletes be as generous as Mets first baseman Pete Alonso? With the Mets leading the Phillies 6–2 last night, a very loud fan let the slugger know that the over on the game was 9. Alonso promptly responded by bashing a two-run homer.
5. Also of note during that Mets-Phillies game was this outstanding sequence involving New York analyst Keith Hernandez, who had his iPad ringing in the middle of the game and then describing a major cat problem he was having.
6. On this date in 1989 one of the best sports movies ever, Major League, hit theaters.
7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: We continue our week of WrestleMania videos by remembering when Hulk Hogan screwed Bret Hart by coming out of nowhere to win the WWE title at WrestleMania IX.
Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.