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ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith used the observance of the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and the coming inauguration of Donald Trump to defend black leaders and celebrities who have met with the president-elect from charges of selling out.

Smith, according to Washington post,  offered his plea on “First Take,” the week after Steve Harvey visited Trump and faced anger and ridicule for calling him a “great man.” Smith called on others to meet with Trump, saying, “perhaps it is time for all of us to see the big picture, to essentially pay more attention to the issues permeating our society, what it will take to resolve them, and connecting ourselves to who we can ultimately hold accountable rather than focusing on disdain for that very individual in a position to make a difference. Knowing that is not going to get us anywhere.”

Smith, wearing an Aaron Rodgers jersey, wondered, “Has anyone thought about what impact it could have if Trump spoke to LeBron James? How about Steph Curry? How about Mike Tomlin, Tony Dungy, Chris Paul, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles or a host of conscientious sports figures connected to communities, committed to helping inner cities ascend from an abyss that has plagued us for decades. What then? Will they be sellouts, too, just for meeting with the man?”

Smith’s message didn’t resonate with everyone. Robert Littal at Black Sports Online chastised him for the take, saying he “could do better.” He writes:

You tell everyone in the world that Colin Kaepernick is irrelevant because he didn’t vote, but you want us to give Donald Trump a chance?

Waiting for all of the excuses from @dallascowboys fans…

A photo posted by Stephen A. Smith (@stephenasmith) on

You haven’t spent one minute of your show to speak on how Colin Kaepernick since the season has ended has helped 1000s of people, not just black people, but all people who are struggling, but you have time to defend Steve Harvey?

The math is not adding up and that is sad because Stephen A. Smith has an influential voice in the black community and his hypocrisy on this issue is showing.

Harvey last week explained that he and Trump chatted briefly about things like golf before getting “down to the crux of it.” He was introduced to Ben Carson, the nominee to be secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and added, “We’re going to team up and see if we can bring about some positive change in the inner cities.”

When noted comedian and host of the hit show “Family Feud” Steve Harvey exited from a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump last week calling him “a great man,” to say there was a backlash would be a gross understatement. The word “coon” and “sellout” was immediately thrown out.

His friend and contemporary D.L. Hughley wasn’t happy either, aiming his vitriol at Trump instead of Steve Harvey. And of course it provided the perfect excuse for naysayers to accuse sports greats like Jim Brown and Ray Lewis of being used as photo-ops weeks ago.

But on a day like today when we celebrate the birth date of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, along with his undeniable historical impact, perhaps it is time for all of us to see the big picture, to essentially pay more attention to the issues permeating our society, what it will take to resolve them, and connecting ourselves to who we can ultimately hold accountable rather than focusing on disdain for that very individual in a position to make a difference, knowing that is not going to get us anywhere.

Has anyone thought about what impact it could have if Trump spoke to LeBron James? How about Steph Curry? How about Mike Tomlin, Tony Dungy, Chris Paul, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles, or a host of conscientious sports figures connected to communities, committed to helping inner cities ascend from an abyss that has plagued us for decades. What then? Will they be sellouts, too, just for meeting with the man? For expressing their concerns? For articulating what ails these communities and providing ideas on how to resolve problems? The answer is no. At least for anyone with sense.

So here’s hoping Trump calls all of those guys and then some. So why have a problem with Steve Harvey? While few of us are interested in hearing praise for Trump at this moment, let’s not confuse that with recognizing the position he’s in, respecting it and using our intellect to decipher where we go from here, not our emotions. After all, how far has that gotten us?

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