The Slatest

ESPN: A Woman’s Job Is Being Pretty, Keeping Quiet, and Representing Her Husband

Thursday night Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry’s wife, Ayesha, tweeted, then deleted, an assertion that the NBA had “rigged” the outcome of Game 6 of the NBA Finals in favor of the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a goofy assertion, but innocuous. Just an invested fan blowing off some steam online.

Our culture being what it is, though, someone had to take this amusing thing and ruin it completely, and that person in this case was Stephen A. Smith. The First Take frontman is basically ESPN’s lead personality, a pundit paid $3 million a year to infect broadcasts across the network with his worldview. He is so infamous for being a sexist buffoon that Slate has already published a long article titled “Stephen A. Smith Takes Sexist Sports Commentary to Another Level”; he’s been a major apologist for documented domestic abusers Floyd Mayweather and Ray Rice. He recently declared that black people don’t like math. (Seriously!)

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Anyway, you can see Stephen A. Smith’s dissection of the Ayesha Curry issue above; here’s one charming section of his remarks (transcript via the Washington Post). The Savannah he’s referring to is LeBron James’ wife, Savannah Brinson:

As beautiful as everyone wants to say Ayesha Curry is, and she is, Savannah is something special. I’m here to tell you something right now. Ain’t a man alive, particularly a black man, that’s going to look at LeBron James’s wife and not say that that woman ain’t gorgeous. She’s wonderful inside and out. She sits there, she doesn’t bring any attention to herself. She never tweets and goes out there and calls out the league and stuff like that. And nobody—nobody—is more scrutinized than her husband. But yet, she thinks about how she represents him, and as a result, she doesn’t do that.

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But has she borne him a male heir? Hey, Stephen A. Smith, Mad Men called, it wants its value system back! Etc.

If ESPN wants to have someone on one of its many shows representing this dumb viewpoint, you could maybe make a case for it being OK. There are lots of idiots in the world, and it can be useful to know what they’re thinking just to remind the rest of us that it’s important to vote. But Stephen A. Smith is more than a voice; he is the voice at ESPN, treated as a star and continually given more and more platforms for commentary. Is it really appropriate for a company with a documented history of sexual harassment problems—a company that’s part of a multinational corporation (Disney) that claims in writing to welcome all types of employees—to make this guy its most prominent on-air voice?

Also, why is Savannah Brinson more attractive to black men than to other types of people?

Ain’t a man alive, particularly a black man, that’s going to look at LeBron James’s wife and not say that that woman ain’t gorgeous.

Maybe it has to do with her feelings about math? I look forward to Stephen A. Smith explaining it to me one day, when we’re both in hell.

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