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#pounditTuesday, October 26, 2021

Stephen A. Smith shares new perspective on Max Kellerman split

Stephen A. Smith

Stephen A. Smith has openly admitted that he wanted Max Kellerman removed from “First Take,” but he continues to insist it was nothing personal.

Smith once again discussed Kellerman’s departure from “First Take” during an appearance on Jimmy Traina’s “Sports Illustrated Media Podcast” this week. While there have been reports that Smith didn’t feel Kellerman was opinionated enough for the show, Smith says the issue was more about him and Kellerman as a pair.

“I thought it ran its course. Even though we were number one. Numbers were dipping. Chemistry was an issue and you know, we needed to be better,” Smith explained, as transcribed by Mike Rosenstein of NJ Advance Media. “I wasn’t pointing the finger at him. I was saying WE did not work as a pair. … You know, I think that people get construed thinking, you know what Stephen A. doesn’t like Max. It couldn’t be further from the truth. I like him and respect him.”

Smith emphasized that Kellerman was not at fault for the way the show “flatlined,” as Smith described it. He said he communicated the issue to his bosses, which led to Kellerman’s removal.

The reasons Smith gave are slightly different from the ones that have been reported by outlets like Outkick. Ultimately, Smith was going to get what he wanted one way or the other. He’s the highest-paid employee at ESPN, so the higher-ups are always going to do what they can to keep him happy.

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