Stephen A. Smith has been outspoken about his displeasure with Phil Jackson and James Dolan’s efforts to run the New York Knicks. Thursday on ESPN’s “First Take,” he criticized Jackson, dating back to his first days in charge of the Knicks and Jackson’s interest in Lamar Odom. Smith boisterously added that Odom was using crack cocaine at that time:
— First Take (@FirstTake) June 22, 2017
Odom, and his lawyer, have responded.
Attorney Saam Zangeneh, who represents Odom, sent a letter to ESPN regarding Smith’s comments. Odom then tweeted the entirety of the letter, using hashtags “#slander” and “#ihopewearebetterthanthis”.
— LAMAR ODOM (@RealLamarOdom) June 23, 2017
Zangeneh’s letter first denies that Odom was using drugs at the time in question, saying, “Let’s put aside the fact that Lamar passed all the required physicals and medical tests necessary to play in the league. Let’s put aside the fact that Mr. Smith attempted to qualify his statement by saying how much he likes Lamar, and wishes him well in his recovery.”
The letter goes on to criticizes Smith’s belittlement of addiction and those who battle that disease.
“Think about the others that are battling addiction. Those that have not had the strength of opportunity to share their struggle like Lamar. Imagine the effect this grotesque statement would have on any young athlete who is privately fighting this disease. To become the punch line of a vulgar joke.”
Jackson signed Odom to join the Knicks in April of 2014, but Odom never ended up playing for New York.
Shane McNichol covers college basketball and the NBA for Larry Brown Sports. He also blogs about basketball at Palestra Back and has contributed to Rush The Court, ESPN.com, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.