PHILADELPHIA, PA--According to a report in the Philadelphia Daily News, sportswriter Steven A Smith is like that all the time. The abrasive, motor-mouthed analyst has made a name for himself with his caustic words and opinionated commentary. Until now, most observers believed that Smith’s ornery disposition was nothing more than an affectation. But the latest report indicates that it is, indeed, his natural personality.
“Oh, that’s Steven all right,” said Marge Swihart, receptionist at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where Smith is a columnist. “He’s very abrupt and he thinks he knows everything. Just the other day came to me and asked where I could find some direct deposit enrollment forms. I told him I put one on his desk earlier, and he gave me a really evil glare. Then he said ‘There is absolutely no chance that you put those forms on my desk. I’ve been sitting there all day. As far as I’m concerned, you are wrong. And that’s the bottom line.’ I was a little taken aback. Turns out I was right. But did he come up and apologize? Not a chance. He’s been avoiding me ever since.”
His colleagues at ESPN and TNT echoed Swihart’s statements. Smith is a regular on such shows as Pardon the Interruption, NBA Match Up, and Sportscenter, and has already ruffled some feathers behind the scenes.
Ralph Crasnick, a cameraman for TNT, told the Inquirer about his run-ins with Smith on the set of NBA Match Up.
“He’s good at his job, but what a royal prick he is,” said Crasnick, 52. “The guy thinks he knows everything. One night in the break room I was microwaving a corn muffin and he just attacked me. He was standing there waiting to use it and he started going on about how I was cooking it at the wrong time and temperature and all that. I tried to defend myself but he just kept saying things like ‘You obviously have no experience microwaving corn muffins. You’ve got to make wholesale changes in the way you cook those things or you’ll have a tremendous problem on your hands.’ I told him I was just warming it up, and he said that it would be a ‘huge catastrophe’ for me if I ate the muffin after a whole minute in the oven, and that I would have ‘no chance whatsoever’ of enjoying it. Well, he was right. That really put a damper on things for me.”
His personality has irritated friends and neighbors as well. Several people detailed similar run-ins with Smith, including his paper boy, Kyle Bauer, who stopped delivering papers to his door after being verbally assaulted.
“It was my first week and I kept messing up,” said Bauer, 12. “Most of the people were real nice about it, but Smith totally freaked on me. All I did was miss a day, and that set him off. I apologized the next day and he was like ‘That is absolutely inexcusable. If you’re getting paid $2 a week to deliver these papers, you’ve got to deliver every paper within it’s allotted time or face the consequences.’ I thought he was gonna hit me, but he just kept talking. He started talking about the other paper boys and how much better they were than me. He said '‘You talk about Jeremy Cataldo, you talk about Missy Taylor, you talk about Greg Ackerman. These are people that, as far as I’m concerned, have tremendous ability as paper carriers. You haven’t lived up to that ability thusfar. You’re a joke.’ That really hurt. He didn’t even stop when I started crying.”
Even Smith’s wife, Tiffany, had some complaints about her husband. The 32-year-old housewife said that the majority of the couple's arguments are a direct result of his grating personality and stubbornness. According to her, Smith even uses that tone on the couple’s 18-month-old daughter, Stephanie.
“I love Stevie, but he has to lose that weird affectation, or whatever you want to call it,” she said. “It’s fine when it’s just me and him talking, because I know he doesn’t mean anything by it. But it’s different when it’s our daughter. She doesn’t even understand what he’s saying. What’s the point?”
Tiffany recalled one incident when Smith chastised little Stephanie for refusing to take her bottle.
“He was saying ‘Take the bottle. Take it. Just take it,’ but she didn’t want to, for whatever reason,” she said. “Then he goes into this big spiel: ‘Now you listen to me. This bottle contains nutrients that are absolutely essential to your well being. As far as I’m concerned, you can take it or leave it. But at the end of the day, don’t come crying to me when you’re in the hospital.’ Then he started speaking in the second person, because he just loves to do that: ‘You’re looking at vitamins. You’re looking at minerals. You’re looking at proteins. You have to believe that a baby would be stupid to turn these things down. So to me, you’re stupid. You’re a stupid, stupid baby, and you’ve been a complete and total disappointment thusfar.’ I’ve got to stop him before she learns to talk and starts imitating him.”
As for Smith, he takes all the criticism in stride. After reading the report in the Inquirer, he simply shrugged it off and vowed to continue being himself.
“Look, I’m on TV. I’m a writer for a famous publication. Obviously, this disposition has gotten me far,” said Smith in his trademark cadence. “When you’re talking about the people criticizing me, you’re talking about folks who don’t know a thing about being a television personality. Obviously, if it was hurting my career, I would make wholesale changes to take care of the problem. But that’s simply not the case. Things are going tremendous for me right now, and you have to believe that it will continue well into the future. You take your Dan Patricks, your Trey Wingos, and your Chris Bermans. These guys are good, but they’re a dime a dozen. Television needs me. Even though I’m not saying anything unusual or innovative, I am saying it in an entertaining way. So go on and hate me, America. Like Shaquille O’Neill, I’m not going anywhere.”
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