Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were an iconic duo on ESPN's First Take. Of course, the two split up back in 2016 when Skip signed a deal with Fox Sports. In the eyes of some, this was the downfall of First Take, especially since Stephen A.'s chemistry with Max Kellerman just wasn't the same.
Recently, Smith spoke to JJ Redick about the origin story of First Take and how Skip begged him to join the show. In fact, Smith made it seem as though Skip was Draymond and Smith was Kevin Durant. Smith recounts being approached by Skip in the parking lot and that Bayless' ratings weren't good enough to keep the show afloat.
“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.’”
Today on Skip's podcast, he addressed those comments and as you will come to find out, he was extremely hurt. Bayless says the comments from Stephen A. were the ultimate betrayal and they weren't even true. While Bayless acknowledges Smith's contributions, he feels as though the ESPN mainstay completely stretched the truth to fit a narrative.
“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.”
It's a shame these two aren't on good terms right now, especially since they gave us such classic moments. Hopefully, they can hash things out and get back on good terms.