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1. “She’s fantastic.”

“She’s spectacular.”

“Rihanna’s music is fantastic.”

“She’s great.”

“I love her dearly.”

“I listen to her music.”

“She’s gonna be good. She can’t be bad. She’s too great not to be good.”

Imagine saying all those things about someone and then having to apologize. That’s what happened to Stephen A. Smith on Wednesday after he riled up Rihanna fans.

Smith appeared on a talk show and was asked whether he was excited about Rihanna’s upcoming halftime performance at the Super Bowl.

After complimenting the singer, Smith said, “There’s one thing she’s not. She ain’t Beyoncé.” Smith dropped the comparison, because Beyoncé performed at the Super Bowl a few years ago.

Smith later added, “For ME, there’s Beyoncé and there’s everybody else.”

Now to get the hilarious part of this absurd story, you really need to watch the clip. Smith did a classic wrestling-style heel turn.

When Smith started out praising Rihanna, the audience was there with him, but as soon as he dropped the Beyoncé line, the crowd gasped, yelled, booed and moaned. The reaction was a testament to what a great performer Stephen A. is.

The other hilarious part of this story is that Rihanna fans were so riled up by Stephen A. saying he prefers Beyoncé that he had to issue one of those forced hostage-style apology videos from the back of a massive SUV.

The sad part of this nonsense is two-fold. One: Smith never should’ve apologized. If anything, he should’ve stayed in heel mode and doubled down. He should’ve cut a promo listing reasons why Beyoncé is better than Rihanna. But to apologize because a batty fan base is bent out of shape is just disappointing. He should’ve let the Rihanna stans stew.

Two: We all know you can’t say anything these days without offending anyone, but it’s legit depressing to live in a time when you’re not allowed to say you like one artist more than another or that you think one performer is better than another.

“I get paid to speak for a living, but I need to be more careful,” Smith said in his ridiculous apology video.


2. A brand-new SI Media Podcast dropped today and during the “Traina Thoughts” segment, Sal Licata and I both discussed how we prefer Rihanna’s music to Beyoncé’s music, so hopefully the Beyhive doesn’t come after us. I also discussed the NFL broadcasting from wild-card weekend in the “Traina Thoughts” segment.

The podcast opens with an interview with Green Light Podcast host and Super Bowl champion Chris Long. The conversation features NFL playoff talk, excellent trash-talking insight from Chris, the Mike McDaniel vaping “scandal” and my most embarrassing opening ever.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Google.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

3. While Stephen A. Smith issued an apology for sharing his musical preference, NBC's Tony Dungy went silent after tweeting and then deleting an urban myth concocted solely to mock transgender people.

It's not shocking that Dungy would spread an anti-trans conspiracy theory considering how he feels about gay people, but for a sports broadcaster who is on TV in front of a massive audience to go full QAnon is pretty surprising and disgusting. 

4. A fan in the stands at the Australian Open had Novak Djokovic extremely rattled today. Djokovic claimed the fan wanted to get in his head and it seemed he succeeded.

5. Everyone is talking Waffle House these days after Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence hit up the establishment to celebrate his team's wild-card win against the Chargers. Brothers Jason and Travis Kelce had an important debate about Waffle House on their New Heights podcast, and I just can’t get over Travis claiming Waffle House is a diner, and IHOP is a restaurant. This is just egregious inconsistency.

6. Nets star Kevin Durant and TNT analyst Stan Van Gundy had a phenomenal Twitter exchange Wednesday.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Happy 77th birthday to Dolly Parton. Imagine the uproar if this talk-show moment happened today.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.