Kenny Smith showed through action that he stands with the NBA players who boycotted the playoffs.
On Wednesday, Smith walked off TNT’s “Inside the NBA” set and away from co-hosts Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Ernie Johnson. Speaking with “TODAY”, “The Jet” assures his walk-off was impromptu.
“I don’t know, it wasn’t anything pre-planned I hadn’t talked to any players,” he explained. “I just felt like I was sitting there and I thought today, that day, I didn’t want to be part of any, what I call ‘talking heads as they speak,’ I wanted to join the march.”
"We are Black Americans first, we are sports figures second. Anyone who is part of this, it's not a political group, we all have a voice and sometimes as a unit our voice can be loud." says NBA analyst @TheJetOnTNT on the walkout and protests over Jacob Blake shooting. pic.twitter.com/WFTL8PTyeo
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 28, 2020
“I didn’t talk to anyone afterwards, I wanted to see what they wanted to accomplish out of this so I could be prepared for great conversations,” Smith continued. “Sometimes in life, you have to join the march and that was my statement of joining the march.”
NBA players reportedly met on Thursday and agreed to continue the playoffs, despite strong protests from LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard, both of whom wanted to end the season prematurely.
“I think the one thing it’s unfair what happens today or now,” Smith shared. “I think the one thing that is really important is asking someone after they won a championship, what do you do, will you win next year?”
“This is a negotiation of a sense of humanity,” he explained. “Right now you are in a negotiation, you need to understand what you want, it’s okay when you are in power to say I will think about what you want and then we’ll come back to you. In the world of sport, the players have your attention.”
Smith, 55, also revealed how his children reacted to his walk-off.
“I have an older son who is at the University of North Carolina and I have three daughters and then my 12-year-old son,” Smith said. “So I called him right afterwards, the reaction I called him on FaceTime and all I saw was a big grin and before I said anything he just applauded.”
“I was like, ‘Whoa.’ That was probably the biggest and best feeling. That he understood why I did it without even me saying it,” he concluded. “I have to practise what I preach. Inclusion about all of the great things that we talk about and I was just excited that he was able to understand that.”