Stephen A. Smith Calls out Former NY Star for Picking Heat Over Knicks

Stephen A. Smith, Knicks

Getty Stephen A. Smith

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith called out former New York high school star Kenny Smith for his “blasphemous” pick in the upcoming New York KnicksMiami Heat series in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.

“Just as an aside, to my brother Kenny Smith–Queens in the building, Queens in the building. Kenny Smith, TNT, the blasphemy this man picked Miami,” Stephen A. Smith said on the April 27 episode of “First Take” on ESPN. “I was ashamed. It’s a betrayal to New York, but I’ll hold it down, New York.”

Kenny Smith picked the Heat to beat the Knicks and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals in the battle between two underdogs who beat the odds in the first round.

“To me, obviously, Julius Randle has to be healthy,” Smith said on Inside the NBA after the Heat’s stunning upset of top-seed Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. “Both teams have to be healthy, and so we’re gonna say that [if] both teams are healthy, I do believe– I took the Knicks to get here– but I do think the Miami Heat are the better team.”

Kenny Smith starred for Archbishop Molloy High School, which set him up for his college run at North Carolina with Michael Jordan and a 10-year NBA career. He won two championships– the first in 1994 at the expense of his hometown team Knicks– as the Houston Rockets’ starting point guard.

Smith, Ernie Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal went with the Heat, while Charles Barkley went against them and picked the Knicks to win.

Rivalry Renewed Between Knicks & Heat

The Knicks and Heat are meeting for the sixth time in the postseason, with some of their greatest battles in the 90s.

Their bitter rivalry started when Pat Riley left the Knicks to become the Heats’ coach and team president in 1995.

Since Riley’s bitter departure, the two teams have met five times in the playoffs, with the Knicks winning three. The most memorable of those triumphs was their stunning first-round upset of the top-seed Heat in 1999 on Allan Houston’s game-winner that set the stage for their Cinderella run to the NBA Finals.

Fast forward to this season, the Knicks have won three of their four regular-season meetings against the Heat, but two of those wins were only by a two-point margin, including Julius Randle’s game-winner on March 3.

Randle’s status for the series opener on Sunday at Madison Square Garden is in serious jeopardy after the two-time All-Star forward re-aggravated his previous left ankle injury during the Knicks’ series-clinching win in Game 5 in Cleveland.

Jimmy Butler vs. Tom Thibodeau

Another intriguing subplot to this new chapter of the Knicks-Heat rivalry is Jimmy Butler facing his former coach Tom Thibodeau.

Butler and Thibodeau went to the playoffs together in Chicago and Minnesota. This will mark the first time they will be on opposite sides.

“Ain’t nobody worried about Thibs,” Butler told reporters after he dropped 98 points on Mike Budenholzer and the Milwaukee Bucks over the last two games to clinch their first-round series.

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