Apparently, the former Rockets guard won't be returning to his part-time role as a color commentator for the Knicks in Walt Frazier's occasional absences this season.
As reported by Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News:
"They told me they want the telecast to have a local feel. After doing TNT (where he works the NBA pre- and postgame shows with Charles Barkley) I can't do that," Smith said. "I don't want to go backwards. That's not me. That's not really what I want to be part of. No hard feelings. None whatsoever."
"Look, I liked being part of the Garden," Smith said. "But when they decided to take different directions, different steps, I couldn't be part of that. I want to be part of something that has, at least, a delusion of grandeur. I guess MSG now has a realistic view of who they really are."
Those last couple of sentences really get me for some reason. Perhaps it's because I've never heard someone pine for the days of delusions of grandeur. Definitely good for a chuckle.
Raissman speculates that the local issue was really more of a financial issue as reports had MSG offering Smith a deal that would have involved cutting his pay by $7,000 per game this coming season. That would make a bit more sense than having a problem with a hometown team looking for a local feel on its area telecasts.
Either way, I'll live. Smith does a fine job on Inside the NBA with Sir Charles and Ernie Johnson on TNT, but he didn't sparkle as much on the MSG telecasts over the past couple of seasons. Perhaps Walt will be persuaded to do a few more games each year, which would be a true listening joy.