Stephen A. Smith: Young NBA Players ‘Turned Off’ By How LeBron Spoke to Them

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Stephen A. Smith, speaking on First Take this morning, said that there were multiple occasions in the past couple days in which younger NBA players did not feel like LeBron James was talking to them with proper respect. Here’s a clip from the segment:

“I heard he was speaking out of pocket and in a fashion that really turned some of these young cats off,” Smith said. “This is a new day. It’s a new generation. As we have said on previous shows, when the younger generation was protesting in the streets, they’re not having it anymore. Well guess what? The younger generation of players were not having what they were hearing from LeBron James because of the fashion in which he spoke to them.”

Smith later said that LeBron “turned everybody off” when he spoke for about 15 minutes at the end of a meeting after everybody — players, owners, and union head Michele Roberts — agreed to next steps. “He was talking about ‘the guys beneath me’ to the point where you have people asking [privately] what do you mean beneath him? … He came across as if he was the king with some crown.”

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports has a tick-tock of the frenetic Wednesday and Thursday in the NBA that is worth reading; it does cite some of the tensions that LeBron was involved in, but the story does not completely match Stephen A. Smith’s account.

Nonetheless, this does feel like a little bit of a changing of the guard moment in the NBA — the Bucks did not feel compelled to consult LeBron James or Chris Paul before their decision not to take the court Wednesday.

Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.


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  1. This next generation from about 18-24 that had to deal with smartphones and social media through high school, are generally a smarter and more skeptical one. They know when to slow their role and they when they’re being duped because they’ve grown up with all the nonsense and learned the hard way. Lebron should not take them lightly just because they’re “following” him.

  2. Good for the younger players this is how most people feel about the self absorbed the world revolves around me no nothing clown. Maybe one day they can save the NBA from themselves but for now that league is in free fall and rightly so no one likes a smart ass know it all.

  3. I said it a few days ago that I bet a lot of the players thought he was a punk. Fake ass black power bitch. I called him a Twitter Panther. He doesn’t have as much juice as he thinks he does (except with Adam Silver). Because he lacks credibility in this arena. Great player. But he’s not a hardcore militant. Just acts like one on the internet. Anyways, I’m not surprised.

  4. These players are not his media lackeys. The players make nearly as much as he does on the court. And, if it weren’t for Kevin Durant’s injury, he wouldn’t be the most dominant player on the court. Cracks in the foundation are starting to show.

  5. So funny… can you imagine lebron giving a political speech? It would probably be the funniest crap ever. Imagine him preaching to us about taxes or foreign policy or the differences between political policies. I mean Biden is hiding in his basement since he doesn’t make sense and forgets what day it is but lebron couldn’t hide. Just imagine him preaching to us like he just did with the youngsters preaching he knows what’s good for us.

  6. I just heard the audio on Jason macintire’s Show. How does Jason tie his shoes? I’ve never heard a person take all sides of an issue at the same time.

    He attacks Stephen A and then attacks LeBron.

    These athletes are as confused as mackintired!

    LeBron reminds me of Frankenstein, if Frankenstein was a clerk at the Motor Vehicle Administration.

    Quote from Doctor Frankenstein right before they burned his Castle: ‘WTF – I don’t Kneed Dis AnyMo’

  7. Sports leagues are commiting suicide by getting into the political / news business and the NBA is a prime example. The ratings are awful and the more this keeps up the more viewers they will lose…..and not come back. Nobody cares what you guys think about societies problems!

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