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Stephen A. Smith Makes Two Mind-Blowing On-Air Blunders in the Same Day

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Stephen A. Smith seemingly appears on just about every ESPN program possible, from “First Take” and his own radio show to “SportsCenter” and “Get Up.”

Perhaps appearing on all these programs is finally catching up to Smith, who recently made two on-air blunders in the same day.

The first occurred Thursday morning on “First Take,” the day after news broke that the Steelers wouldn’t be applying the transition or franchise tag on Le’Veon Bell, thus making him a free agent.

Smith, Max Kellerman and Victor Cruz were debating where Bell could end up. Smith suggested two teams that could use the running back’s services, though one of them made zero sense.

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“I’ll throw out two other teams that nobody is mentioning in terms of Le’Veon Bell,” Smith said. “How about the Philadelphia Eagles or the Carolina Panthers?”

Cruz appeared to have a slightly puzzled look on his face, while Kellerman kindly reminded Smith that the Panthers already have Christian McCaffrey, who was third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage last season.

“But they don’t have receivers,” Smith replied. “So (McCaffrey) and Le’Veon Bell is what I’m thinking.”

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That would be error No. 2. McCaffrey is one of the best receiving running backs in the league, having caught 107 passes for 867 yards last season.

Smith’s next blunder came during his radio show later that day when he was talking about Duke star Zion Williamson, who was injured after his shoe blew out during a game against UNC on Wednesday.

Many have argued that Williamson should give up on college basketball and instead prepare himself for the NBA draft, where he’ll likely be among the top picks.

Smith, meanwhile, talked about the NBA’s one-and-done rule, where American players must turn at least 19 the calendar year of the draft and be one year removed from their high school graduating class in order to be draft-eligible.

But Smith apparently didn’t read the rule all the way through, as he took the time to blast what he thought the rule was.

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“If I got to be 19 years of age or one full year removed from high school before I’m allowed to enter the NBA draft, that rule is not applicable to European players, to players from Europe!” Smith said. “That rule is not applicable to them.”

“(Mavericks rookie sensation) Luka Dončić could have came over here as a 17- or 18-year old. (Knicks guard) Frank Ntilikina could have done the same thing. (Jazz center) Rudy Gobert if he was younger and wanted to, he could have done the same thing, assuming he’s from France,” Smith said.

“(Hornets guard) Tony Parker’s still in the league, he could have done the same thing. These European players, these players that come over from Europe, don’t have to be a year removed from high school. These rules don’t apply to them! So why should it apply to individuals, primarily African-American individuals over here in the (United) States? That’s not right. That’s not right,” he added.

As Awful Announcing noted, Smith was incorrect. Ever since the draft rule went into place for the 2006-2007 season, 17- or 18-year-olds have largely not been allowed to play in the NBA. All of those international players that Smith mentioned were at least 19 before they started playing.

Per the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, international players do not have to be one year removed from their high school graduating class, but they do need to turn 19 “during the calendar year in which the Draft is held.”

All told, it wasn’t a good look for Smith.

“It’s a case of him not having a clue what the actual rules are for a league he’s supposedly an expert on,” Awful Announcing pointed out. “And that’s just the latest example of how Smith is more about being loud than being right.”

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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