Stephen A. Smith spoke with Michael Kay and let fans know he’s about that action, boss.
Stephen A. Smith is brutally honest and unapologetically vocal about his opinions and stances on issues. Anyone who has followed his career over the years knows this.
The Bronx born, and Queens raised, journalist has worked his way up the ladder to become the face of ESPN, and it’s not something that happened overnight or without challenges.
In an interview with Michael Kay to be aired in July, Smith discussed the things which both humbled him and made him great.
Many know about the infamous incident where, as a student athlete at Winston-Salem State University, he wrote a column about how their legendary basketball coach, Clarence “Big House” Gaines should retire due to health issues, a story which, allegedly, made him the target of possible expulsion by the university’s chancellor for disrespecting the legendary coach. Fortunately Coach Gaines himself stepped up to defend Stephen A. as he and the coach discussed the story beforehand.
Then there was the ripping of Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson for missing Game 2 of the 2005 Western Conference Finals, an absence we all learned later on was due of his mother’s funeral. A few years later came his release from ESPN in 2009 over a contract dispute and overall poor ratings.
But Smith learned from his mistakes, and, most importantly, learned about the business of television, and that made him a much stronger, and better, journalist and businessman.
“When I left and I was gone, I said ‘okay, what happened?’ I was being emotional,” said Smith. “I wasn’t focused on the business of television and broadcasting and understanding what my ratings are, what my Q Score was, what kind of numbers I brought in. I was just thinking, ‘I’m a bad man.’ I gotta get paid what I think I deserve. I didn’t look at their bottom line, what their criteria was, what they measured as success, and then say what am I delivering.”
From that experience, Smith learned to talk real business talk.
“I talk numbers. I talk business. I don’t have any emotion whatsoever about it,” he said. “It’s like excuse me, this is what you said defines success. Here’s what I bring. Where’s my money?”
Since rejoining ESPN in 2012, Smith has risen to become one of the most recognizable faces and voices in sports today. From his heated debates with Skip Bayless on “First Take” and his successful radio show to him becoming the highest paid talent in ESPN history, Smith has gone through his ups and downs at the network, on air, with fans and in sports as a whole.
But he, as always, remains unapologetic about his success and failures, knowing that everything he’s done in his past has helped get him to his current present.
“Just talking about my career, it is what it is, man,” said Smith after the show’s taping. “There’s ups and downs and some days are greater than others, but it’s about the grind, and it’s about trying to establish yourself as one of the very best at what you do. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don’t.”
When legendary NYC radio station 98.7 Kiss FM went under and merged with 107.5 WBLS, there’s a reason why Stephen A. Smith was selected to be the first host of ESPN New York when Kiss FM officially signed off at midnight on Monday, April 30th, 2012.
He was the first voice New Yorkers heard as soon as Kiss FM legends like Bob Slade thanked everyone for three decades of support.
For those who have followed him from NY to NC to Philly to Bristol and to NY again, Stephen A. Smith has succeeded. But the First Take host has no plans of stopping or slowing down.
Smith plans to continue his takeover until we “get to a point where there is no debate” about who the best in business is.
“The best is yet to come.” said Smith.
If that’s the case, journalists better step their game up, because Stephen A. is coming for the kingdom.