Stephen A. Smith has consistently been one of ESPN’s most polarizing and successful personalities – but now he’s in danger of losing his top rated show First Take.
After leaving the network in the late 2000s, Smith found his way back to ESPN in 2012, where he joined First Take, a debate showing starring the likes of Skip Bayless. Bayless had been the main analyst on the show since its inception in 2007 and it was becoming clear that Bayless needed someone opposite of him who could handle his ridiculous hot takes all while offering some comedy and entertainment. As soon as Smith and Bayless linked up, they created TV magic.
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In 2016, Bayless left the network and joined FS1 where he eventually started a similar show called Undisputed where he now sits across from NFL Hall of Famer, Shannon Sharpe.
With Bayless gone, ESPN decided to yank boxing reporter Max Kellerman away from SportsNation and brought him over to First Take where he would get his very first taste of what debate-focused television is all about. The show was different, but Max became a breath of fresh air as he would deliver solid social justice takes, all while offering perspectives that fans weren’t always used to.
Last month Steven A fired Max, and the shows ratings have fallen into the TOILET!!