ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is well-known for his controversial sports opinions — you could say he’s made his career on them. But perhaps out of habit, he just made a comparison that’ll have a whole new group of fans fighting mad at him.
The outspoken First Take host appeared on the daytime talk show Sherri, where he was asked about Rihanna’s upcoming Super Bowl Halftime Show — it’s technically in his wheelhouse and gives the audience some common footing with him, so not a bad question, all told.
But his “first take” made an age-old comparison that isn’t likely to endear him to the daytime talk crowd, or to fans of the two artists he contrasted. “I don’t wanna say I’m not excited,” he said. “She’s fantastic. That’s not where I’m going with this. Ladies and gentlemen, she’s a lot of things. She’s spectacular, actually. And congratulations on new-momma-hood. There’s one thing she’s not. She ain’t Beyoncé.”
The two singers have been pitted against each other for years but doing so has become something of a sore spot. Unfortunately, Smith’s entire job more or less consists of comparing athletes to each other, so when he was potentially out of his depth (name one Rihanna song, album, or feature without Google, Stephen!) he fell back on what he knows.
Although, in his mind, he apparently had a good reason for doing so. “The only reason I brought up Beyoncé is because Beyoncé recently performed at the Super Bowl, with and without Bruno Mars and Coldplay,” he explained. “Rihanna’s music is fantastic. She’s great. She’s a sister. I love her dearly. I listen to her music. I’m gonna support her until the cows come home. I’m just telling you: for me, there’s Beyoncé and there’s everybody else. Just like there was Michael Jackson and there’s everybody else.”
Hey look, whatever floats your boat. But a word of advice for Smith: Kobe fans may drive to featureless California towns to fight you, but the Navy (and the Hive) never forgets. Turn off your notifications now.