ESPN, Stephen A. Smith Get Blasted for Over-the-Top Knicks Coverage

You wouldn’t have known the Pacers were also involved in a Game 7 on Sunday.
Stephen A. Smith in 2021.
Stephen A. Smith in 2021. / Tori Lynn Schneider / USA TODAY NETWORK

1. ESPN and ABC turned Sunday’s Pacers-Knicks Game 7 into a Knicks infomercial and viewers were not happy.

With ESPN’s NBA studio show constantly being dogged for not being nearly as appealing and enjoyable as TNT’s Inside the NBA, who knows if the Disney network consciously tried to make Stephen A. Smith the focal point of the Pacers-Knicks series as a way to say, “Hey, look at us. We can be fun, too, and Stephen A. is just as entertaining as Charles Barkley,” but it failed miserably.

Yes, Stephen A. is the face of ESPN right now, but there’s a fine line between promoting your own star and embarrassing yourself.

The entire story line of Stephen A. being a Knicks fan maybe could’ve been a little easier to stomach if ESPN didn’t snub the Pacers, but the lack of talk about anything related to Indiana in the series was noticeable.

And then the cherry on top was that after Indiana blew out New York, Stephen A. was nowhere to be found.

All of this combined angered media critics, sportswriters and fans, who spent Sunday afternoon hammering ESPN for its coverage of the Knicks and lack of coverage of the Pacers.

2. Speaking of that 130-109 Pacers' blowout win against the Knicks, Tyrese Haliburton wearing a sweatshirt after the game with the famous picture of Reggie Miller making the choking gesture at Spike Lee was A+ trolling.

3. Total bush league behavior last night by Nuggets coach Michael Malone. Normally, I give athletes and coaches a pass if they get testy in a postgame press conference after a tough loss. However, this was way over the top by Malone.

The questions that set him off was, “How hard is it just to absorb a loss like this after going ahead by 20?"

Malone’s response: “Next question, man. The season’s over. That’s what’s hard. F--- being up 20. The season’s over. You don’t understand that. The season’s over. It’s hard. Stupid-ass questions.”

Did Malone not think he was going to be asked about his team blowing a 20-point lead? There was nothing even remotely out of line about that question. The season is over because your team blew a 20-point lead, Mike. So it’s a valid question and you had every right to be pissed off, but you didn’t have be a total jerk.

4. This is impressive.

5. There’s nothing worse in sports than when an athlete tries to toss a souvenir to a kid and some immature adult interferes and steals the object. Luckily, Bryson DeChambeau was on top of this at the PGA Championship on Sunday and put the adult in his place.

6. Immediately after the NFL schedule was released Wednesday night, I taped the latest SI Media With Jimmy Traina podcast with NFL VP of Broadcast Planning, Mike North, who plays a major role in putting together the schedule.

North talks about the challenges in putting together the 2024 schedule, why the league decided to play on Christmas Day (which takes place on a Wednesday), how the Christmas games affected the rest of the schedule, who will produce and broadcast the two Christmas games on Netflix, why the NFL went all-in on the Texans, whether the Chiefs have replaced the Cowboys as America's Team, how flex scheduling will work, why there won't be a national doubleheader in Week 1 and much more.

Following North, Sal Licata from WFAN and SNY joins me for our weekly "Traina Thoughts" segment. This week's topics include Aaron Rodgers's eye-opening admission, Tom Brady's backpedal on his Netflix roast and a shady move by a restaurant. I also read recent Apple reviews for the SI Media With Jimmy Traina.

You can also listen to the SI Media With Jimmy Traina below or on Apple and Spotify.

You can also watch SI Media With Jimmy Traina on Sports Illustrated‘s YouTube channel.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: On this date in 1993, the Season 4 finale of Seinfeld, "The Pilot," saw Jerry and George cast their sitcom in one of of the most meta scenes in the show's history.

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 and Instagram.


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Jimmy Traina

JIMMY TRAINA

Jimmy Traina is a media writer and podcast host for Sports Illustrated. A 20-year veteran, he’s been covering the media industry for seven years and writes a weekly column at SI, Traina Thoughts. Jimmy has hosted the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast since 2018, a show known for interviews with some of the most important and powerful people in sports media. He also was the creator and writer for SI’s Hot Clicks feature from 2007 to 2013.