Q&A with ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith
Omar caught up with ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith at SMU basketball practice today and got to ask him a few questions before his one-on-one interview with Larry Brown.
Omar: Is this your first time at SMU?
Smith: "I was actually here for a speech last month, but this is my first time for athletics. I have never been here for a sporting event. I was mad because my flight was delayed and I couldn't make it in for last night. I wanted to get here last night for the game, but I couldn't until after the game was over."
Omar: Why are you interested in seeing what's going on at SMU?
Smith: "Because of Larry Brown. I covered Larry Brown for his first six years in Philly. My relationship with him goes back more than 15 years. He is not just a coach, but he is a personal friend of mine along with Eric Snow and George Lynch. We have all been very tight over the years. I love them dearly and I'm really proud of the job they are doing. I really believe that Larry got a bad rap over the years. He can be a bit temperamental, there is no doubt about it, and he can wear on you. But he is a great man and unquestionably one of the top three greatest coaches I have ever seen in my life. This man knows his basketball backwards and forwards. It's just great to see him doing what he is doing here because he is in his element. At his core, he is a teacher. I'm a reporter and he's taught me. My confidence comes from what I have been taught by "Big House" Gaines, John Chaney and Larry Brown. That's where it comes from. With all of his knowledge, I knew that he would get this turned around. This was an easy job for him. He would never admit it, but this was right in his element."
Omar: How would you compare the job Larry Brown is doing here to other jobs he has had in the past?
Smith: "Well, obviously it's a fantastic job considering the recent history. I mean SMU hasn't really beaten anybody in 30 years for crying out loud. I understand that. What I'm saying to you is if you put Larry Brown in an element where he has kids to teach the game of basketball too, it's a walk in the park for him. He will do it to anybody. If a toddler could comprehend it, he would stop and teach a toddler to play basketball. It's just who he is. He has never changed in that regard. He is a teacher. I have never ever been around somebody who knows more basketball and he is also a sponge. He steals from everybody in terms of learning little things.
Overall, from a macro prospective, he knows more than just about anybody. He just does. Guys like E.F. Hutton. When Larry Brown talks about basketball, you have no choice but to listen. I'm a reporter, but I could debate with you covering your team and what went on with your team or why they are arguing or something like that. But when he starts breaking down basketball, you either shut up and listen or ask questions where it is clear that you are trying to learn from a Godfather because that's what he is."