Happy New Year everyone. It’s the night of Jan. 2,2008, and aside from
sitting here cracking up over David Letterman’s new beard – a
needed reprieve from the latest depressing loss by my beloved, yet pathetic,
New York Knicks – I’m actually doing something I never thought
I’d do in my lifetime: writing a blog.
In the interest of being real, although I’ve been a journalist for more than 14 years, therefore intimately accustomed to writing, especially on the fly, I’ve never desired to have my own website, let alone write my own blog. But things change when your loved ones notice your notoriety more than you do, when they aspire for your voice to expand, when they’ve grown tired of the countless times they’ve heard critics rain venom without compunction because they sensed my voice was limited.
Needless to say, I’m far from limited. This…I know. I’m still an NBA Analyst on ESPN, seen most Wednesday and Friday nights on NBA Shootaround with Bill Walton and Stuart Scott, hosting my own show on ESPN Radio every weekday – Nationally Syndicated from 3-to-4 p.m. (EST.) by the way – with enough plans for bigger and greater things in the very near future that even I’ll admit is enough to make me blush.
Essentially, I’m pretty much in a position to say what I want, when
I want, how I want and to whom I damn-well please, which anyone who knows
me knows I’ll exercise at any given moment. There will be plenty of
time for sounding off in the very near future – about any and all issues
that interest me. But here’s my initial warning:
Don’t expect my blogs to be limited to SPORTS!!!
Just like I spent years addressing a string of things from the social implications surrounding Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens, the cultural differences potentially influencing the modern-day athlete, or simply the things corporate America still struggles to grasp during my days writing as a journalist, sports will be used as a conduit to bigger issues at every opportunity, not just as a distraction from the real world.
There is a black man and a woman running for President who actually have a shot at winning. There’s a political climate that’s unpredictable as ever, and a sports world evidently petrified at being political for fear of diminished stature, monetary and otherwise.
Clearly, the age of stars like Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar standing behind Muhammad Ali passed us by sometime ago. Fear, and an insatiable desire to keep the proverbial feathers unruffled, remains the status quo. So if anyone thinks I’ll hesitate to crystallize these issues whenever they present themselves, they simply have not paid attention to what I’ve done, who I am or what I stand for.
If something needs to be said I plan on saying it. Whenever and wherever necessary. But contrary to cynical belief, I’m fully aware there is a time and place for everything. That everything is NOT about race. And, more importantly, when there is something to be said about race, every incendiary piece of blame does not flippantly deserve to get pointed in the direction of WHITE AMERICA.
Trifling behavior doesn’t fall squarely on the broad shoulders of those with a lighter pigmentation who happen to run this country. It comes in all colors and from all directions. These are the lessons taught to me by my parents, my four older sisters, and so many others who cared enough to guide me and make sure I was never the latest statistic draped in prison garb, reduced to a number like so many brothers I’ve personally known over the years.
My name is Stephen Anthony Smith. I was born in the Bronx, NY and raised in the streets of Hollis, Queens. I’m a member of the hip-hop generation, who loved RUN-DMC and LL Cool J, but still managed to sneak in a little Phil Collins, Hall & Oates and Rod Stewart into my head phones or stereo whenever my boys weren’t paying attention.
My idol was, is and will always be Muhammad Ali (although his daughter, Laila, could give him a run for my money right now). I’ve idolized Ali all these years not necessarily because of my love for sports as much as because of my love for how principled he was in the face of adversity during the Vietnam War.
I’ve loved and admired the legendary Howard Cosell all these years for the same reason, imagining what it took for him to be a like-it-is truth teller while actually cultivating a relationship with Ali while the world was against him. Cosell’s been gone for sometime now, but just the thought of anyone thinking there’s a little of him in me is a tremendous compliment.
Undeserved, certainly. But I’ll take it.
The parallels drawn in regards to where I’m from and who I am is a constant, fearless approach towards pursuing – then speaking – the truth. Watching television, feeling as if I was being lied to by pundits who seemed compelled to hold back by some unforeseen force, is what inspired me to get into print, then television and radio. None of us are flies on the wall, for the most part. Without eyewitness accounts, there’s always room for plausible deniability, or a reason to debate. But that doesn’t prohibit any of us from exercising common sense, from noticing that 1-plus-1 = 2 -- from saying if something walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….it’s not a damn mongoose!!!
That is where I come in.
Sometimes in sports. Sometimes in politics. But always with life.
Afterall, that’s what everything is really about, anyway.
So fasten your seatbelts! Get ready for a ride!