78 Days After ESPN’s Firing, Stephen A. Smith Reveals Why He Got Max Kellerman Demoted Earlier: “Didn’t Wanna Go From No.1 to No.2 When Skip (Bayless) Left”

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith has led his show First Take to become one of the highest-rated sports shows on morning television. Smith joined First Take in April 2src12 and has helped the show stay in the number 1 spot for over a decade. But after the departure of his long-time co-host Skip Bayless, Stephen A. was unsure about who his next on-screen partner would be. So, ESPN hired Around The Horn host Max Kellerman in 2src16.

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Even though the show did not see a decline in ratings, Stephen A. Smith did not see any upside in keeping Max Kellerman on the show. The 5src-year-old was removed from First Take in 2src21 after spending 5 years as Stephen A.’s co-host and was demoted to a lesser role on ESPN. He was eventually fired by ESPN this June. 78 days after his firing, Stephen A. Smith revealed why Max Kellerman got removed from the show.

Stephen A. Smith did not like working with Max Kellerman


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In the latest episode of The Joe Budden Podcast, the 55-year-old ESPN analyst addressed the demotion of his former First Take co-host Max Kellerman. “I did not like working with him,” said Smith. With different visions for the show, Stephen A. believed the show was getting stale with the presence of Max Kellerman. After Skip Bayless left the network to start his new show “Undisputed” on FS1, Stephen A. feared a drop in his show’s ratings, “I didn’t wanna go from No.1 to No.2 when Skip left.”

Even though that proved not to be the case when Kellerman joined, Stephen A. knew something was missing from the show, “It was just there.” Apart from their difference in opinions, Stephen A. also discredited his former co-host because he was neither an athlete nor a journalist. According to the veteran analyst, fans would question the presence of such an inexperienced personality hosting the show, “Why should we listen to you?”

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The aftermath of Stephen A. Smith’s decision

Max Kellerman left the show in September 2src21. After his departure, Stephen A. Smith went with a different approach, changing the whole format of the show. As we see today, First Take is home to a diverse panel of analysts rather than just two stable ones. With the addition of several experts and retired players from various sports, the show provides fresh and entertaining content throughout the year.

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Retired players such as NBA’s sharpshooter JJ Redick and NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe are part of the show, making it more exciting for the fans. Even though the firing of Max Kellerman was controversial, it did no harm to the ratings of First Take. In fact, the show saw a massive spike in ratings, once again proving the genius of Stephen A. Smith.

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