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"Embrace debate," huh?
Recently I became involved in a lengthy discussion about the ten greatest NBA players of all-time.  Afterwards I went home and did some research to support my case.  I came to the conclusion that they are (in no particular order) Bird, Magic, Jordan, Wilt, Russell, Kareem, Oscar Robertson, Kobe, Shaq, and Olajuwon.  Narrowly missing was Tim Duncan, who I actually ranked eleventh after Hakeem.  Obviously this list is highly subjective.  Duncan may well be better than some of the players I just mentioned.  In fact, my esteemed colleague Mike Dyer placed Duncan at #7 all-time in a Celtics Life article on this very subject back in January.  But the list itself is beside the point here.

I consider myself a fairly logical and rational human being; to the point that I use the twitter handle @LucidSportsFan, and entitled my own blog LucidSportsFan.com.  Determining who I believe are the top ten NBA players of all time required significant thought and effort.  Because of this I took personal offense to comments made by Stephen A. Smith on ESPN's First Take show Thursday.

Smith and Skip Bayless were discussing what winning a championship this season would mean for Tim Duncan.  Bayless was of the opinion that Duncan needed another title to cement himself as an all-time great.  Smith adamantly disagreed, and had this to say in response:
I think anybody, ANYBODY who does not have Tim Duncan in their top 10 all-time needs to be drug tested immediately.

The conversation then shifted temporarily, but returned to the subject when Bayless said he wasn't so sure of Smith's assertion:
Smith: Stop. Don't entice people to think such idiocy. Tim Duncan is easily top ten. Easily top ten. Easily top ten. Easily.
Bayless: I don't think so. Prisoner of the moment.
Smith: What prisoner of the moment?
Bayless: People will be, you watch.
Smith: Then they're ignorant.

You can listen to the entire show here.  This interaction begins at the 32 minute mark, then starts up again around 35 minutes.

So according to Smith, I am idiotic and ignorant for ranking Duncan outside of the top ten, and I should be tested for drugs.  I don't understand how he is allowed to say things like this on live television.  Even if my list wasn't well thought out, who is he to judge and criticize other people on things that are a matter of opinion?  More offensive than the remarks themselves is the fact it is deemed acceptable for him to make them.  Journalists with the opportunity to express their views on TV should be able to do so without insulting those who's thoughts differ; in fact that seems like a fairly simple and basic requirement.

Also, I really wish that while Smith was so heatedly insisting Duncan is a member of the top 10 Bayless had asked him to list exactly who are the ten best NBA players ever.  I wonder if Smith could have even backed up his argument?

Mark Vandeusen 6/07/2013 01:55:00 AM Edit
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