Stephen A. Smith is known for the Hot Takes that have allowed him to become one of the most influential talking heads in sports media, but those stances have also drawn the ire of plenty of athletes—including Lonzo Ball, who has found himself involved in what appears to be an escalating feud with the ESPN personality.
Ball hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since January 14, 2022, as the Bulls guard has spent more than a year-and-a-half trying (and largely failing) to get to the bottom of the knee injury that has seemingly left medical experts baffled and required multiple surgeries that have not had the intended effect.
Earlier this week, Ball announced he’ll be missing the entirety of the 2023-24 NBA season as he recovers from his latest procedure, and I think it’s pretty reasonable to be worried about his future and how his career will pan out even if he reaches a point where he’s able to return to the hardwood.
On Tuesday, Smith responded to that development during a segment on First Take where he hinted he’d spoken to insiders who suggested Ball was having trouble standing up, which certainly didn’t inspire a ton of confidence.
"I don't think he'll ever be the same… I've heard that it's even hard for him to get up from the sitting position… I'm really, really sad for him."
Stephen A. Smith on Lonzo Ball missing another NBA season after his latest knee surgerypic.twitter.com/d5HjCyXfTK
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) August 22, 2023
However, Lonzo didn’t waste any time calling him out, as he posted a video where he repeatedly proved he can, in fact, get out of a chair with relative ease.
— Lonzo Ball (@ZO2_) August 22, 2023
It wasn’t exactly the most breathtaking show of athleticism, but Ball was simply responding to a specific claim that he easily debunked. However, it doesn’t appear Smith is scrambling to change his tune based on what he had to say in response on Wednesday.
"You really going to sit poolside on the bench and think because you getting up and sitting down… that makes you healthy? … Bro, you ain't healthy."
Stephen A. Smith claps back at Lonzo Ball and Twitter trolls on First Take 🗣pic.twitter.com/VYdc9Aui6i
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) August 23, 2023
Smith once again harnessed his platform to go on one of his signature rants while disputing the notion that video undermines the point he was supposedly trying to make about Ball’s long-term prospects, asserting that being able to stand up doesn’t mean he’s going to be able to hold his own on an NBA court.
While he may have a valid point, it’s hard to deny this is a pretty shameless attempt to move the goalposts on Smith’s part; there’s obviously a chance Ball will never be the same, but when you say a player is having trouble standing up only to get called out in a video where that player proves that isn’t the case, you’re allowed to admit you were wrong.