Stephen A. Smith offers LeBron James and Lakers sincere apology: ‘I have to stand down’

Mike Battaglino
4 Min Read
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The latest jaw-dropping performance by Los Angeles superstar LeBron James was so good it has put ESPN pundit Stephen A. Smith in the unique position of offering an apology for something he said.

“I owe LeBron James an apology,” Smith said. “I just do. I just do. … I owe LeBron James an apology because look at what I said the other day to Shannon Sharpe.”

Prior to the game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Smith told Sharpe, who was touting the Lakers’ chances, that the Clippers were “gon’ bust they a– tomorrow night.”

Smith looked like he would be proven right with the Clippers building a big lead entering the fourth quarter. But James then took over and pushed the Lakers to a shocking 116-112 victory.

The 39-year-old scored 19 points in the fourth quarter, outscoring the entire Clippers squad by three points all by himself. He made five 3-point shots and added four assists in the quarter. He even defended Kawhi Leonard when the Clippers star missed a possible game-tying shot in the waning seconds.

James scored or assisted on 11 of the Lakers’ final 13 baskets during the 21-point fourth-quarter comeback, which is the largest of his 21 NBA seasons. He finished with 34 points and eight assists.

“There is no getting around the greatness of LeBron James,” Smith said. “On this particular mornin’ I have to stand down, and I have to say on national television — because even though I was talkin’ about the Lakers, I wasn’t talkin’ about him — his greatness was so sublime, so spectacular, I have to sit up there and pay homage and give major, major props to the one and only LeBron James.

“I apologize for bein’ — talkin’ about the Lakers gon’ get their a– kicked. I apologize LeBron James.”

The performance had former NBA player Chandler Parsons calling it “unbelievable” and “insane.”

The Lakers have won three of the four meetings against the Clippers this season, including their final one as co-tenants at Arena. Despite that, they trail their rivals in the Western Conference standings, with the Lakers sitting in ninth place and Clippers in fourth place.

Before the win against the Clippers, the Lakers had won just one of their first three games coming out of the All-Star break. They will take a 32-28 record into their game against the Washington Wizards on Thursday. Matchups against two of the top teams in the Western Conference – the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder – follow.

James has shown he remains one of the best players in the NBA, which creates some optimism that the Lakers can make another strong playoff run after reaching the Western Conference Finals last season.

He is averaging 25.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game this season. Despite managing an ankle issue, he also is averaging 35.0 minutes per game and has made 52 appearances so far after playing in just 55 games last season.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. He remembers the birth of "Showtime" and has always admired the star power the Lakers have brought to the game.