Stephen A. Smith-Pelicans beef, explained: New Orleans roasts ESPN analyst after Zion Williamson insults

Stephen A. Smith again took aim at Zion Williamson’s weight Friday. So the Pelicans decided to fire back at the ESPN analyst.

Smith, who previously called out Williamson’s weight in December 2023, took additional jabs during ESPN’s “Get Up” on Friday morning. The Pelicans responded with posts on X (formerly Twitter) that took shots at Smith’s own playing career.

For his part, Smith didn’t wait to get back on camera to respond to the social media jabs.

“LESS!!! Can’t score when you can’t play due to a devastating knee injury. That’s my fact. Now……what’s y’all excuse for never winning anything???” Smith wrote on X. “Can’t wait to see y’all in April. May and June? We won’t even go there! Good Luck! Tell my boys…Coach [Willie] Green and CJ [McCollum] I’m always rooting for them”

MORE: Did Stephen A. Smith play basketball?

What did Stephen A. Smith say about Zion Williamson?

Smith has made Williamson’s weight the subject of his jokes before. And he resumed those comments Friday on ESPN.

“It’s not about his game,” he said. “It’s about how many burger he’s eating, whether he is going to be in shape or is he going to keep eating McDonald’s and have chefs clamoring for him to come to their restaurants.

“That’s what he has to prove, that the chefs don’t love him any longer. That he’s committed to playing basketball and being in shape.”

Smith also made food jokes about Williams in December while on “The Stephen A. Smith Show,” per Awful Announcing.

“His affliction is food. He can’t stop eating. How would I know this? Could it be because chefs in New Orleans love him? That could be one reason. That’s what I’ve heard,” Smith said, per Awful Announcing. “Could it be that New Orleans is one of the best cities in America if not the best city in America when it comes to restaurants and food? Sure. But the ultimate evidence was his belly.”

MORE: How Smith injured himself in All-Star Celebrity Game practice

Williamson is currently listed at 284 pounds, according to Stathead, which has him tied as the third-heaviest player in the NBA in the 2023-24 campaign with two-time MVP Nikola Jokic. Boban Marjanovic and Jusuf Nurkic (290 pounds) are the only two players listed as heavier.

The Pelicans selected Williamson with the first overall pick out of Duke in 2019. The 23-year-old forward has struggled to stay healthy in his NBA career, but he’s been a force when on the court. This season, he’s averaged 22.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game while shooting 58.5% from the field. His 45 games played this season are the second-most for a full season in his five-year career.

Stephen A. Smith basketball career

Smith has always been quick to say his playing career was ended early due to an injury he sustained in college.

He played basketball at Division II Winston-Salem State University, a historically Black university in Winston-Salem, N.C. During his first season on the team, he said he cracked his kneecap in half and could never play again. Smith said he couldn’t run without a limp.

“I would come back, make the team, trying to practice and once every 36 to 48 hours, my knee would just give out,” Smith said on the “Podcast P with Paul George” show.

Smith has said had it not been for the injury, he believes he would have been a more impactful player. He claimed he was offered the scholarship after he made 17 straight 3-pointers in front of coach Hall of Fame coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines.

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