Yesterday, I wrote a post comparing Stephen A. Smith’s reserved opinion of Jeremy Lin’s skills after his three breakout performances with Stephen A. Smith’s exuberant reaction to Miami Heat rookie Norris Cole after just two games early in the season (including one in which Cole scored only 7 points).
A quick recap of that post: About believing the Linsanity hype, Stephen A. Smith said: “Not yet, I’ve got to wait and see.” About Norris Cole’s game, he said, “He’s a big time player, there’s no doubt about it.” Very different reactions.
Since Jeremy Lin dropped 38 points and 7 assists on the Lakers Friday night, Stephen A. Smith has been taking some heat. He defended himself on Twitter, saying he did not “bash” Lin but instead proposed a wait-and-see approach. It’s true, he did not bash Lin. But at the same time he did say because Lin’s games were against the Nets, Jazz and Wizards, “Forgive me if I’m not overly excited.”
As it turns out, however, Stephen A. Smith had not watched those games. In one of his Twitter messages today — after the Lakers beat down — he wrote:
1st time I really watched the kid (only saw him for a few minutes vs. Wizards). Beautiful off pick-and-roll. Stop-and-go game like Nash.
In his last three games, Jeremy Lin has averaged 25.3 points and 8.3 assists in leading the Knicks to three wins. This is what Stephen A. Smith, an NBA commentator, said when asked if he’s buying into Linsanity:
"Not yet, I’ve got to wait and see," he said, very stoically, and if you know Stephen A. Smith’s body of work, this is a rare occasion, indeed. “He played well against the New Jersey Nets, the Utah Jazz and the Washington Wizards. Forgive me if I’m not overly excited” — Stephen A. Smith fails to mention that the Knicks starting five against Washington were Lin, Bill Walker, Landry Fields, Jared Jeffries and Tyson Chandler (a combined annual salary of $17.5 million, of which $14 million belong to Chandler) — ”He can ball, it seems. There’s been an upgrade from the porous play we’ve seen from Knicks guards in recent memory — over the course of the last few weeks — he’s an upgrade, there’s no doubt about that. He’s exciting. I like what I’m seeing. But as the competition becomes stiffer and teams familiarize themselves with him, meaning they know what to prepare for night in and night out, then I’ll see.”
That’s fair. But this is what Stephen A. Smith said after rookie Norris Cole’s first two games with the Miami Heat this year — one of which he scored 20 against the Boston Celtics, who were playing without Paul Pierce. “This kid Norris Cole is the real deal,” Stephen A. Smith said with his usual bombast and swagger. “He’s a big time player, there’s no doubt about it. He’s just a natural shooter. Got a beautiful touch. Can shoot from anywhere. Can shoot threes. Can dribble penetration, create his own shot. Can get in the lane, has a nice floater. He’s got that kind of game.”
Keep in mind that Norris Cole is a point guard, not a shooting guard, and that the team also employs Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh (who earn a combined annual salary of $47 million). Since that 20-point game, Cole has cooled off somewhat. He has not scored close to 20 points in a game since that second game against Boston (in his first game, he scored 7 points against Dallas). He is now averaging around 8 points a game in 20 minutes off the bench — and 2.4 assists.