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Monday, February 20, 2006

Stephen A. Claims to Know A.I. Better than A.I.

Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer gave us another example of Stephen A. Smith looking into his crystal ball and calling it journalism. Smith once again claims that he knows that Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson wants out of town, despite the fact that Iverson denies it.

Smith wrote:

[Allen] Iverson wants you to believe that he wants to stay in Philadelphia, that he loves everything and anything except his team’s unimpressive record, even as reality erodes the spin perpetually associated with the demise of this franchise — and that of Mr. Iverson.

He then goes on to point out that other all-stars are on teams with much better chances to win than Iverson. There’s no doubt about that. Of course, it’s also not evidence that Iverson wants out of town.

Smith goes on to point out rumors that Iverson is unhappy with his head coach:

Oh, and did I mention the rumblings about Iverson’s dismay with [Maurice] Cheeks and president/general manager Billy King, and speculation that he wants to be traded?

Yet, the only thing approaching a fact in Smith’s piece about Iverson wanting out of Philly is a flat-out denial by the guard:

"I don’t want to go anywhere," Iverson said defiantly when pummeled with questions about his future in Philadelphia. "I want to be a Sixer. I want to win a championship in Philadelphia. This is where I want to be."

But, apparently Smith knows better. He writes:

"The Answer" is so busy publicly vowing his loyalty to Philadelphia that he is ignoring his private thoughts.

I don’t like ripping a writer at the Inquirer, or any writer that’s doing a job I only had a small taste of. I also know Smith writes commentary these days, not news. He’s even right that the Sixers aren’t going far if King doesn’t do something to shake things up.

But, I can’t stand when Smith simply puts words in a person’s mouth (or head) to suit his purposes. Writing commentary doesn’t mean doing away with journalistic principles. Smith didn’t quote anyone or even offer one of his infamous unidentified sources (read: posse member) to support his story. He even suggested he simply knew Iverson’s thoughts better than Iverson.

The problem is that when writers and broadcasters put out stories like this, it only adds to the “Negadelphia” image of Philly. No one is asking for reporters to be cheerleaders. But stories like this just don’t have any value. It’s just one more thing Philly haters can point to as evidence that our teams suck so bad that superstar players only want out.

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