NBA broadcaster Kenny Smith faces backlash over Sabrina Ionescu remarks after 3-point contest

NBA broadcaster Kenny Smith faces backlash over Sabrina Ionescu remarks after 3-point contest

During the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities on Saturday night, Golden State Warriors’ standout Stephen Curry and New York Liberty’s sharpshooter Sabrina Ionescu captivated audiences with a mesmerizing display of three-point shooting prowess. This marked the first-ever 3-point contest between NBA and WNBA superstars, with Ionescu narrowly falling short to Curry, who clinched victory with a score of 29-26. Notably, Ionescu was shooting from the NBA 3-point line, which is situated approximately 12 to 18 inches farther than the WNBA line, utilizing the smaller WNBA basketball.

Despite the slight discrepancy, Ionescu showcased remarkable skill and resilience, earning praise for her performance. Reflecting on the event, she expressed gratitude for the opportunity to compete in front of a live audience, emphasizing the significance of the moment not only for herself but for the broader context of women’s basketball. “This is where I wanted to be… It’s changed the landscape of how people view what we’re doing,” she remarked.

However, amidst the excitement, commentary from TNT broadcaster Kenny Smith sparked controversy among basketball enthusiasts. Smith’s suggestion that Ionescu should have shot from the women’s 3-point line drew criticism for its perceived lack of understanding and condescension. Despite Reggie Miller’s defense of Ionescu’s choice, Smith’s remarks incited backlash on social media, with many expressing disappointment in his commentary and advocating for more inclusive and respectful dialogue.

Criticism of Smith’s commentary extended beyond social media, with sports journalists and figures weighing in on the matter. Andrew Marchand of The Athletic criticized Smith for distracting from an otherwise captivating contest, arguing that his comments lacked logic and timing. The consensus was that Smith’s remarks detracted from the historic moment shared by Curry and Ionescu, overshadowing the positive impact of their participation.

Despite the controversy, both Curry and Ionescu expressed appreciation for the opportunity to pioneer a groundbreaking event and inspire future generations of basketball players. As Curry noted, their presence on such a stage holds significant potential to motivate aspiring athletes, regardless of gender. Ultimately, despite the discourse surrounding Smith’s commentary, the competition succeeded in raising funds for their respective foundations, leaving both competitors with smiles on their faces and a sense of accomplishment.