From 2012-2016, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were mainstays on ESPN’s hit morning show “First Take.”
Following a contract dispute in 2016, Bayless left for greener pastures and greener pockets when Fox Sports ponied up somewhere in the $5 million to $6 million range to land Bayless.
That began a morning rivalry of sorts, with Stephen A manning “First Take,” and Skip starting a new show FS1 called “Undisputed.”
ESPN added boxing analyst Max Kellerman to replace Skip, while Fox Sports chose Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe to join Skip. Through it all SAS and Skip reportedly remained good friends.
Well, that friendship seems to be on thin ice after comments made by Smith during an appearance on ESPN analyst J.J. Redick’s podcast “The Old Man and the Three.”
Smith basically insinuated that Bayless begged him to join “First Take.”
“Skip Bayless came to me in the parking lot of ESPN’s campus in Bristol, Connecticut, and he says, I know you’ve got your plans. You love the NBA. You love being out on the road. You love being in the locker room. But I need you. I’ve done all that I can do to take this as far as it can go. I need you, please. Just give me three years. I think we’ll knock it out of the park.”
The loquacious Smith continued, “I thought about it. Those were clearly my best options. They weren’t about to give me my own show or anything like that at the time. I thought about it for a couple days and I said I’d do it. One month later we were No. 1, and we’ve been No. 1 ever since.”
While Skip may have asked SAS to join him on the show, he’s also adamant it wasn’t because the show had reached the point of no return, as Smith insinuates.
Bayless Responds To Smith: Says Comments “Stung”
In his response Bayless used the words “blindsided” and “stung to the core,” when he got word of Smith’s somewhat reckless recollection of how he joined the show. Bayless used his own podcast to respond.
“Stephen A. was suggesting that he saved and then made ‘First Take.’ How can you save a show that was already as big a billion-to-one success story as ESPN has ever seen? The ratings and the revenues were impossibly great when Stephen A. joined me in 2012.”
Smith immediately clapped back as only he could, calling Skip his brother, while also stating he wasn’t lying
While only those two know what was really said as pertains to SAS agreeing to join the show, both seem to believe what they’re saying is fact. No matter who’s telling the truth and who’s fabricating their story to fit the narrative, one thing for sure is the end result has been better than that of “Cold Pizza,” another morning show that ESPN ran from 2003-2007 that Bayless was a part of regularly.
SAS Wanted Skip To Come Back:
Reportedly after months of pushing, Mad Kellerman was removed from the show in September. SAS mentioned the show had become stagnant and mundane in his opinion. Following that move, ESPN, at the reported request of Smith, tried to reunite the the former duo. The deal fell through as Fox Sports once again opened its checkbook giving Bayless a reported four-year extension worth $32 million. ESPN offered much less.
This story is still fluid, burner account king Kevin Durant tweeted: