Kobe Bryant’s Trayvon Martin-related comments in a New Yorker Magazine interview were “right on point” according to ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith.
Smith is a regular panelist on ESPN’s First Take, where he and the equally outspoken Skip Bayless contentiously debate each other for two hours about sports.
In the magazine article, Bryant seemed to express reservations about the Lebron James-led Miami Heat posting a team “hoodie” photo to display solidarity with Trayvon Martin, and Kobe’s take subsequently stirred up a controversy on social media.
Neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, now 30, was put on trial for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, 17, on February 26, 2012, after confronting the teenager as he walked back to the house where he was staying in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, entered a plea of not guilty on self-defense grounds and went on trial in a Seminole County courtroom starting on June 24. After about 16 hours of deliberation, the six-person, all-female jury on the evening of July 13 found him not guilty of both second degree murder and manslaughter.
In an appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show(see embed below), Smith explained that “You have to pursue the facts to best of your ability; that’s all Kobe Bryant is saying; that’s all any of us should be saying.”
Smith noted that he too was outraged over the Trayvon Martin fatal shooting, but “it would behoove us to make sure we put forth our due diligence when it comes to being factual as opposed to being emotional.”
Speaking about the African American community in general, Smith said that “… Even though the system is sometimes unjust … unfair, it doesn’t accord us the license to be unfair as well. We have to be sure that if we re shining a light on issues that we’re just as fair-minded as we’re asking other people to be toward us. Because if we’re not willing to do that, then we don’t have a strong argument … so you rise to the occasion by making sure you exercise a level of fairness and justice that you want others to bring your way … we’ve come a long way as a society; we have an obligation to recognize that instead of always getting emotional and assuming that someone is against us because of race …”
Noting the importance of “patience,” Arsenio Hall admitted that he fell “hook, line, and sinker” for the Tawana Brawley hoax back in the day. Responded Smith, “You have to understand that when you make the mistake of jumping to emotional conclusions, and being factually incorrect, your cache diminishes…”
Concluded Smith: “This notion that because you’re black you’re supposed to think a certain way – you got to understand, we’re not one monolithic group where we all look and think and act alike. That’s ridiculous.”
Earlier this year, Stephen A. Smith — who claims to be an independent voter — spoke out against the rejection of black conservatives in his community.