On the early Tuesday evening broadcast of ESPNs “Sportscenter”, Dan Patrick asked Stephen A. Smith to comment on Jermaine O’Neal’s claims that the NBA’s proposed higher age limit for entry into the league is racially motivated.
Smith characterized O’Neal’s protest as “very ignorant”, adding that no one wants to hear a guy who just signed a contract for tens of millions of dollars talking about race.
Well, why the heck not? Assuming he’s got anything interesting to say on the subject…and in this case, he does. O’Neal was asked to justify his remarks on tonight’s “NBA Fast Break” and he came off as a fairly cogent, reasonable public speaker. The Pacers forward simply asked if this wasn’t grossly unfair —- that Freddie Adu could sign a pro contract at the age of 15 without anyone complaining, but professional basketball players are held to a different standard. O’Neal denied that he was trying to play the race card (whatever that actually means) but pointed out that in a league where 80% of the players are black, this was a question worth asking.
These were hardly outrageous allegations to be throwing around. But more disturbingly, if Stephen A. Smith honestly believes that being a young, black millionaire should precludes O’Neal or any other player from speaking their mind, his stupidity is matched only by his cynicism.