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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:
Stephen A Smith says LeBron James left players and owners 'turned off'
"He was speaking out of pocket and was talking to players in a fashion that really turned some of these young cats off . . . He came across as if he was the King with some crown."
(🎥 ESPN) pic.twitter.com/21ZkqCXzkz
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) August 28, 2020
“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.