Most recently Smith spoke not on the current state of the NBA, but on the recent firings at his home of ESPN that saw around 20 hosts get clipped. He mentioned how they were doing great work for ESPN and it’s unfortunately a sign of the times.
“ESPN laid off about 20 members of its on-air talent … friends of mine, actually, definitely respected colleagues who’d done a phenomenal job and deserved better,” he said on The Stephen A. Smith Show. “It’s not Disney or ESPN that they deserved better from, they deserved better than the times we’re living in.”
Smith mentioned Jalen Rose by name, who’s graced the cohost chair of First Take and the two have done quality NBA coverage for years.
“Got a lot of love for that brother,” he added. “A lot of the great work he’s done over the years, what he’s represented for the company… I’m going to miss him. Jalen Rose has always been good to me and I loved working with him on NBA Countdown. He is a brilliant basketball mind, he is somebody that worked his ass off all the time. There was never an assignment he backed away from, there was never a time he didn’t want to work.”
Another surprising name that got the boot is Jeff Van Gundy who had the unique perspective of being a successful head coach in the league, and even touted a Finals appearance in 1999 while leading the New York Knicks. He began commentating for ESPN in 2007 after getting fired from the Houston Rockets and has been one of the most recognizable voices on the network since. Smith can’t imagine that he’ll be out of work for long but still saluted him, saying he’s a “Hall of Fame analyst and commentator.”
Smith went on to warn that more layoffs at ESPN would be coming and he’s not exempt from getting cut.
“If we’re going to be real about it, let’s deal with reality. This ain’t the end, more is coming,” he said. “And yes, ladies and gentlemen, I could be next.”
Others included in the latest round of layoffs are Max Kellerman, Keyshawn Johnson, Matt Hasselbeck, Chris Chelios, Steve Young, Rob Ninkovich, Neil Everett, Ashley Brewer, Joon Lee, LaPhonso Ellis, Todd McShay and Jason Fitz.
See how Twitter reacted to the firings below.
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