Stephen A. Smith Is Jealous That You Like Charles Barkley Way More Than Stephen A. Smith
If people like you -- or at least like what you represent -- they're more likely to give you a break in the event you offend them. Case and point: Donald Trump. Say what you will about how he's the orangey fourth horseman of the apocalypse, people respect his candor and enjoy his entertaining flair for the dramatic. Not even Al Sharpton is immune to Trump's winning charm. "[Trump's] the kind of personality that is hard to dislike," Sharpton told Politico on Monday. "If Don King had been born white he’d be Donald Trump," he added, invoking yet another pop culture figure whose surface shined bright enough to distract you from the moral misgivings underneath.
The same goes for Rob Gronkowski, who's currently humping his way around a floating frat house somewhere near the Bahamas. Under normal circumstances, we'd chastise a professional athlete for glorifying a cliché party animal persona that runs counter to America's idea of what a good role model should be, but we don't because we like him. He's a sweet dummy with a heart of gold who plays his position better than anyone in history. That checks enough boxes for us to look the other way when he does this...
As you might've expected, ESPN's Statler and Waldorf spent much of Tuesday morning breaking down why Gronk gets a pass, yet Cam Newton -- who is black -- does not. Surprisingly, Stephen A. Smith came to the same conclusion: it's not so much about race as it is about likeability.
Now for the fun part...
Stephen A. Smith gritted his teeth and speculated that his own controversial takes wouldn't draw as much ire were they to have come from the mouth of one Sir Charles Barkley. Skip Bayless felt similarly. But forget the fact that they are 100% right about this (something that rarely if ever happens), think about what the guys of "First Take" just said.
- Likeable people are applauded for being themselves.
- Unlikeable people receive extra criticism.
That's right -- Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless just admitted to being so unbearable that other human beings are incapable of loving them.
[noise of a beer can cracking open]
"Charles Barkley says stuff that -- I love him, but he'll say stuff that one would deem controversial all the time," Smith said. "It gets laughed off."
"It's just Charles being Charles. Let Stephen A. say it, and oh, it's going to be a problem. Ok? And it ain't going to be a laughing matter either. And I can -- I could say exactly what Charles Barkley says, verbatim, but if it comes out of my mouth, it's a different ballgame. That's all I'm trying to say."
Yep, and people like Charles Barkley because he's funny and self-effacing and respects the world enough to give us his honest feelings -- not some thinly-veiled manufactured outrage. You can connect those dots yourself.
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