In a recent appearance on JJ Redick's podcast, Stephen A. Smith spoke about his relationship with Skip Bayless and how First Take came to be. Throughout his explanation, Stephen A. claimed that Skip was struggling to get ratings and that he eventually begged Smith to come on the show. Smith says he was ultimately the catalyst for the show taking off and that without himself, First Take would have been canceled.
“Skip Bayless comes to me in the parking lot of ESPN’s campus in Bristol, Connecticut,” Smith said. “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 could 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.’”
On his very own show, Skip was distraught over these comments, and in many ways, he felt quite betrayed. After all, Stephen A. has always been like a brother to him, and he felt like Smith was stretching the truth to make himself look good. As you will see from Skip's comments below, he was very much hurt by what was said, and that feeling probably won't be going away, anytime soon.
“I thought, ‘how could my brother Stephen A. turn on me like that?’ On me? Seriously?” Bayless said.. “Stephen A. was suggesting that he saved and then made First Take. How can you save and make a show that was already as big a billion-to-one success story as ESPN had ever seen? The ratings and the revenues were impossibly great when Stephen A. joined me in 2012. With Stephen A. as my partner, First Take would never touch the NFL Monday ratings that it hit in 2011 pre-Stephen A. And I had taken First Take as far as I could? Seriously? I was just getting started. The rocket had just launched the year before in 2011. Stephen A., how dare you.”
Skip's comments eventually went viral on Twitter, which led to a response from Stephen A. In the tweet below, Smith states that he never lied about anything, however, he regrets hurting Skip. Smith made mention of the fact that the ratings stuff was relayed to him by other individuals at ESPN and that he never meant to make Bayless look bad. Needless to say, Smith wants to maintain his friendship with Skip, especially when you consider everything they have been through together.
“Skip Bayless is my brother," Stephen A. said. "I will always love this man and I will always be grateful. No matter how far I continue to climb, I have him to thank. My comments about the state of First Take at that time is what I was told. It certainly wasn’t meant to slight my brother.”
In addition to all of this, Kevin Durant has weighed in on the situation, saying "Sources say somebody is lyin. Stay tuned." Durant has a special distaste for Stephen A. and Skip, so it should come as no surprise that he would get involved in this way.
Let us know who you think is in the right, in the comments down below.