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#pounditSunday, May 26, 2024

Stephen A. Smith gets brutally honest on why ‘First Take’ dropped Max Kellerman

Stephen A Smith reports from the sideline

Dec 18, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith broadcasts before a game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen A. Smith has been one of the most influential faces on ESPN for years now. His power within the Worldwide Leader in Sports was clearly felt in the firing of his former “First Take” co-host Max Kellerman.

Smith was widely reported as the instigator of Kellerman’s removal from the successful sports talk show. The 55-year-old hasn’t been hiding that fact since Kellerman was axed from the show in 2021.

The ESPN analyst recently opened up about Kellerman’s exit even more in an appearance on episode 657 of “The Joe Budden Podcast.” Smith was asked if he was aware that tension between him and Kellerman was starting to manifest on the actual show. Smith not only took responsibility for that being true but he also stated what brought about the rift.

“It was totally my fault and the reason it was my fault is because I didn’t like working with him. It’s just that damn simple. I didn’t like it. I thought the show was stale. I thought that we had flatlined when it came to the public at large,” Smith said, via Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated.

Smith added that he had no plans of allowing “First Take” to lose its status as the number one sports talk show, particularly after former co-host Skip Bayless left in 2016.

Smith did reiterate that he would have thought twice about having Kellerman removed if he knew his then-partner would end up jobless. But Smith said that he knew ESPN would still provide Kellerman avenues to stay on the air. Kellerman later moved on to ESPN Radio, hosting a morning show with Keyshawn Johnson and Jay Williams.

Kellerman, however, was part of several high-profile layoffs ESPN made within their company in June, which Smith has also weighed in on.


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