Stephen A. Smith makes his money on the hot take-industrial complex, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that he shared his opinion (loudly) on the big story in the NBA last night: the Wizards-Celtics rivalry.
But this time, the take was so scorching as to border on nonsensical. Basically, his argument was that the Wizards and Celtics can't have a rivalry because neither team will contend for the NBA title this season, making the animus between them irrelevant.
Now here's the irony: Where was Smith delivering this sermon? On the 11 p.m. edition of SportsCenter.
Contrary to what the First Take host said, the Wizards-Celtics rivalry was so relevant as to be featured on the biggest sports news show in American televsion last night.
And let's be clear: You don't have to contend for a championship to be rivals in any sport, or in any field of competition. Would Smith say the Ravens and Steelers aren't a rivalry because neither team will play in the Super Bowl this year?
I should mention that Smith said lots of really complimentary things about John Wall and Bradley Beal in this segment, so presumably they're relevant enough for him to comment on.
But to be charitable, Smith seems to be dismissing the Wizards-Celtics rivalry to make a larger point about the lack of parity in the NBA.
He argued that Kevin Durant joining the Warriors tipped the balance of power so dramatically that only three teams -- the Warriors, Cavaliers and maybe Spurs -- have a prayer of winning a title.
And he claimed that top-heaviness has made regular season games between other teams feel trivial for him to cover.
Smith isn't the only person to lob this complaint at the NBA. Even comissioner Adam Silver has said Durant's move to the Warriors harmed competitive balance around the league. Not that it was particularly balanced beforehand, mind you.
But I'll tell you something that Smith ignores: Wizards fans really care about what happens in games against the Celtics. Rivalries aren't constructed in the media, they're born between players and fans of opposing teams.
Frankly, the Wizards beating the Celtics last night was a lot more relevant to most NBA fans than whatever Stephen A. had to say about it afterwards.