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‘I Ain’t Having It!’: Stephen A. Smith Believes Some Criticism of the Lakers’ Magic Johnson Hire is Race-Based

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson was hired by his old team as the president of basketball operations — essentially putting him in charge of one of the sport’s great franchises.

Some feel Johnson is not up to the task. ESPN’s Dan Le Batard cited Johnson’s brief stints as a talk show host (which lasted just eight weeks), and head coach of Lakers (which lasted just 16 games, during which he compiled a 5-11 record) as part of his argument that Johnson is unqualified for the position.

“It is the power of celebrity, and the power of who you know, that you could get all of these great jobs that there are many more qualified people for, standing in line, who won’t get a sniff of those jobs,” Le Batard said. “Because Magic Johnson just cuts line. He cuts the line.”

On his ESPN Radio program, Thursday, Stephen A. Smith said he does not believe Le Batard’s thoughts on Johnson have anything to do with race. However, he does feel that some people are criticizing Johnson “to disguise what some would deem their prejudices.”

Of the Johnson criticism, Smith said:

I sit on this show, every day, priding myself on being far. When black folks are wrong, I call ’em on it. White folks are wrong, I call ’em on it. Everything ain’t about race. And lots of times, broaching the subject of race, because of a position that a white person may take, is incredibly unfair to them, in my opinion, at times.

But there are times when it’s absolutely fair. And this is one of them.

Smith added: “In this space, make no mistake, I ain’t having it! Not this place! It ain’t happening here!”

Listen above, via ESPN Radio LA.

[featured image via screengrab]

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Joe DePaolo is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @joe_depaolo