Stephen A. Smith, half of ESPN's First Take diabolical duo, is receiving a lot of heat after apparently using a racial slur on the program Thursday morning.
While talking to NBA announcer Mark Jones about Kobe Bryant's status for the regular season, it sounds as if Smith utters the slur quickly, but still very audibly. You can take a listen for yourself here and be the judge (via Big Lead Sports).
Smith has vehemently denied the claim that he used the slur on live television, but as you can see from that same link, ESPN cut out the apparent slur on a re-air of First Take.
Smith addressed the issue later on in the show saying, “I’m a New Yorker! I speak very, very fastly!” Here is the video of Smith's explanation for what happened.
It does appear that Smith said something starting with an "N" that sounds very similar to the slur, but he continues to deny his actions. While Smith can continue to deny it, ESPN cutting it out of the re-air seems to discredit his words. If there was nothing there, why would the network make the effort to go back and cut it?
It is the second time in under a year that Smith has come under fire for uttering an apparent slur. In December of 2011 Smith "may have" said the word when discussing how LeBron James should be more like Bryant. Smith denied it that time with a tweet, saying:
Recently, someone incredibly irresponsible has tweeted on numerous occasions I used the "N" regarding LeBron James. That is patently FALSE.— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) December 8, 2011
First Take has taken a variety of forms over the last year, transforming from a full morning sports show with segments, guests and analysis, to Smith and Skip Bayless sitting across the table from each other barking about various topics.