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#pounditSaturday, September 18, 2021

Stephen A. Smith explains why he wanted Max Kellerman off ‘First Take’

Stephen A. Smith

Max Kellerman recently made his final appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” after five years as Stephen A. Smith’s co-host. There have been reports that Kellerman was removed from the show because Smith wanted him gone, and we now know those reports were accurate.

During an appearance on Hot 97’s “Ebro in the Morning” podcast this week, Smith admitted that he asked ESPN to remove Kellerman from “First Take.” He praised Kellerman for the work he did on the show and said the two do not have a bad relationship. As Smith describes it, the partnership simply went stale.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that it’s not just the work that goes into (doing a show), but also the fact that it’s a chemistry that you have,” Smith said. “Sometimes it just stalls, and the audience lets you know that it is what it is and you feel the need for something fresh and feel the need to retool.

“The reason I’m unapologetic about my stance is, number one, it’s no knock against him personally — his professionalism, his work ethic, his talent and all that other stuff. It’s not like I wanted the guy to be fired or anything like that. I knew that there were landing spots available for him at this network that would generate just as much, if not more, revenue for him. It wasn’t really about asking him off the show. It was about the fact that I knew that we, together, was not a great partnership anymore.”

You can hear more of Smith’s remarks below:

We’ve heard some other reasons for why Smith wanted “First Take” to move on from Kellerman. At the end of the day, Smith is the highest-paid employee at ESPN. He’s almost always going to call the shots.

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