It is almost unbelievable that Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless's friendship has turned into the beef. The two former ESPN partners who remained inseparable for years, suddenly being at odd, may sound dubious; however, it did happen.
Smith, who never missed comments on the happening games, made his appearance on The Old Man and the Three podcast, hosted by JJ Reddick and co-hosted by Tommy Alter. His conversation with the sports analyst was getting hits until he started talking about his former partner Bayless and the show First Take.
The controversy between these two famous figures started with Stephen A recalling the 2012 event when ESPN management was disgruntled with the morning show Cold Pizza hosted by Bayless and the rotating crew & also with the program ratings and revenue on ESPN2.
He mentioned in the podcast about Bayless approaching him and saying, "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."
Then he also added, "I thought about it. Those were clearly my best options. They weren't about to give me their own show or anything like that at the time. I thought about it for a couple of days and said I'd do it. One month later, we were No.1 & we've been No.1 ever since."
How Did Skip Bayless Respond To Stephen A Smith's Statement?
Following the podcast, Stephen A's statement almost hit the nerve of Bayless, with him responding while stating, "He has been more of a brother to me than my actual brother ever was. I love the man, and no matter what happens from this point forward; I will always love the man."
"But brothers do fight. We have fought before, and maybe we're about to fight again. All I know for sure, at this point in this, is that Stephen A. Smith made some statement on JJ Redick's podcasts last week that flat-out blindsided me, that stung me to the core, ultimately made me angry, and made my wife Ernestine even angrier."
The controversy rises after the two prominent commentators come to & fro from each other. Skip added to his response, "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."
"And I had taken 'First Take' as far as I could? Seriously? I was just getting started. The rocket had just launched in 2011. Stephen A, how could you?"
The sports talk show First Take is the predecessor of the Cold Pizza, previously moderated by Jay Crawford and Dana Johnson and broadcasted from Studio E at ESPN. However, the program had a drastic format change in August 2011 to increase the ratings.
And that's when Skip's role stepped in with the dramatic increase in the show by focusing the program itself on the debate. The ratings of the First Take increased by 58% in the first three months of 2012 compared to 2011. Moreover, in the next month, on 30 April 2012, Stephen A. joined the show permanently with Bayless as a regular guest contributor based five days per week.
Stephen A Smith Tweets Towards Skip Bayless Response
The drama between them hiked with Skip responding to the podcast and Smith clarifying the matter through Twitter while trying to get back to his former buddy. He stated, "I didn't lie about a damn thing. This is nothing more than a misunderstanding. As I've stated on MANY occasions, Skip Bayless made First Take. He carried it on his back for years. And when he asked me to come on, he needed me because he carried the show on his back for years. He needed a permanent host. He asked & chose ME."
"Because of HIS decision, I've enjoyed the success I have. Because of him, I've become what I've become at ESPN. Skip Bayless is my BROTHER! 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 this time is what I was told."
"It certainly wasn't meant to slight my brother. I would never intentionally do that. The only sad part about that portion is that he does not know that... despite my consistent commentary over the years regarding how much he means to me. Check the record. The rest I will address with my brother Skip Bayless privately. Now, if y'all would excuse me: I've got an NBA Finals to finish covering."
Moreover, he previously expressed the relationship of his friendship with Skip as one of a kind and hard to replace. He specified, "I mean no disrespect to anybody, but that's my brother," he talked about his former ESPN partner, who left the show in 2016 to work in Fox Sports.
Smith added, "Skip Bayless and I are tight, and we're tight in a very different and unorthodox way. You'll never see us hanging together. We might go out to dinner. His definition of vice is Diet Mountain Dew. That's Skip Bayless; he's a devout Christian. I try to be. So we're very different, but I'll tell you for a debate, that's my man."
After his show buddy left the program, Smith was known to have difficulty adjusting to his co-host Max Kellerman. He frankly opened up about his situation, stating, "It was a challenge. It still is a challenge. And I say that with all due respect to Max, who I genuinely like. Max is one of the best people you'll ever meet. He's an incredibly nice guy, very, very intelligent. He has a cerebral approach to things."
"And here is the only difference between somebody like him and somebody like and various others. Max is the kind of person that genuinely believes this is how he feels. And if you don't understand. I have to convince you because you just don't get it. You're not understanding. Because you couldn't possibly disagree with me. That's Max. Skip, and I don't give a damn whether you agree with me or not."
Although Stephen did find the adjustment then, he did not seem to find the talking buddy in the show like Bayless. There may have been a lot of Squabbles between these two, but none of them appears as pressing as the recent feud.
Are Stephen A Smith And Skip Bayless Still Friends?
Friends or Feud! They have been more like brothers for years. Also, Stephen intends to settled-down the matter behind the closed doors & moreover, they have taken a step to solve the beef. Regardless of the situation, the dispute between these two prominent figures might soon get calmed down in public as well, with Smith's efforts trying to clarify the situation, cooling off the beef, and still being friends.
They have been tough competitors for their one's sports show after splitting. And all these times, never once have their friendship taken a dramatic turn like now, & never once have they been to the point of coming back to one another.
Nevertheless, Skip has updated the good news on his show, "we did manage to get together this past Sunday. He (Stephen A) was in LA. He came over, and we sat by the pool, it wasn't the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it all out. We got through it, and we've been through so much together. We're still standing. We're okay now... We're good now."