Even on an NFL Sunday, the sports world was captivated by an on-court squabble between LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart. James caught Stewart with an elbow in the eye and drew blood, which led to Stewart exploding and trying to chase James down on the floor despite myriad obstacles in his way. For their roles, Stewart was suspended for two games and James was suspended for one contest, but the dialogue continues, and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith made waves on Tuesday by indicating that James “has never been feared” by his colleagues.
“In my estimation, from the people that I’ve spoken to covering the league, [LeBron] has never been feared. … With LeBron, you believe you can take him. You believe he can be had.”
— First Take (@FirstTake) November 23, 2021
“LeBron James is too phenomenal and too great not to be incredibly respected, but in my estimation from the people that I’ve spoken to covering the league, he’s never been feared,” Smith said as part of his extended comments. “LeBron is not somebody that instills fear in you.
“With LeBron, you believe you could take him,” Smith went on to say. “You believe that he could be had.”
Immediately following Smith’s monologue, former NBA standout JJ Redick, who was co-hosting on Tuesday, took Smith to task for his comments.
Lool, Stephen A just tried to lie that if #FirstTake was around during Michael Jordan era they wouldn’t cover MJ gambling in Atlantic City before the playoffs. #LeBronJames #MJ pic.twitter.com/QurJrmsazU
— HGIC (@HGIC_) November 23, 2021
Redick began by describing Smith’s comments as “crazy” and indicating that no one “has ever challenged LeBron” in a physical confrontation. From there, he continued to push back on Smith’s comparison between James and Michael Jordan, pointing out that James developed in a different era, both on the floor and in the media environment.
Ultimately, it seems as if Smith and Redick were kind of arguing different things, but Redick’s viewpoint that LeBron absolutely instills fear is obviously credible. For one, he played against James on the biggest stage repeatedly but, even removing that affiliation, it stands to reason that James, as one of the best players and most physically imposing figures in league history, would provide some level of fear to the opposition. Alas, somehow James and Jordan are always compared, and this is apparently a semi-new way of pitting the two against one another.