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First Take Debates The Fairness Of NBA’s Return

“During his initial argument, Smith made the point to emphasize that this isn’t just a game when referring to the NBA returning in terms of the jobs that are on the line for those who aren’t players.”

Ricky Keeler

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This week, NBA teams will be heading into the bubble down in Walt Disney World outside of Orlando, Florida to prepare for the resumption of the season. Players have to be feeling the concern of heading into an unknown that has never been done before. And on top of that stress, this is all being done in one of the USA’s COVID-19 hot spots.

New Orleans’ Pelicans guard J.J. Redick addressed those concerns to the media last week in terms of the comfort level or lack thereof that players feel. 

On Monday’s episode of First Take, Stephen A. Smith, Jay Williams, and Dominique Foxworth debated Redick’s concerns and this question was asked: Is it fair to ask players to return under current circumstances?

“That would depend on whether or not it’s fair to ask anybody to go to work in this day and age. If it is unfair to ask anyone to work in this day and age, then of course it is unfair for the players,” Smith answered. “But, if other people are asked to go to work, then it is not unfair for them…We have an economy.”

During his initial argument, Smith made the point to emphasize that this isn’t just a game when referring to the NBA returning in terms of the jobs that are on the line for those who aren’t players.

“It’s not just about games and that’s the thing that drives me crazy and I am not talking about players. I’m not pointing my finger at the players at all. I’m just addressing those who have this mentality: the health of players are at risk just to play a game. It’s not just a game to thousands upon thousands if not millions of people that the games affect economically and monetarily…It’s a reality that isn’t going anywhere. It’s not a popular thing to say, but I am not trying to be popular. I’m trying to be real.”

Foxworth, a former NFL defensive back and later COO of the NBA Players union, agreed with the premise of dealing with unfairness, but told Smith it was wrong that players have to go to work because others have to go to work since he brought up his friends who are lawyers or have office jobs do not have to go to work. However, he did bring up the point about the NBA not being more than just a game:

“The fact of the matter is this isn’t essential,” Foxworth said. “It helps us all, we love it, we like entertainment. I agree there are people around these teams that don’t make a lot of money and need this opportunity. This ain’t essential. You have the opportunity to say I don’t want to go…It’s not fair to ask them to expose themselves.”

This is another conversation that is tough to have, as Williams suggested, because of the unfairness that exists not only for the NBA players, but people working in essential businesses.

“When you compare health to the economy, protecting health is not getting in the way of economic recovery. Protecting health is the route to economic recovery.  There are levels of unfairness and I don’t like this whole conversation all the way around.”

Smith brought up the key word in the question: ask instead of force “because it is a request.” So, the wording of the question can sometimes be a key factor. He added that the unfairness for the players was the lack of a backup plan by the NBA.

“If we want to talk about the unfairness of what the NBA proposed, it’s the fact that they don’t appear to have a backup plan. Had he mentioned that, that would have resonated even more so.” 

The games are still going to go on later this month as Kendrick Perkins brought up on Twitter on Monday, but the unfairness topic is something that has to have been brought up amongst sports fans with their friends and families and it’s a debate that won’t stop anytime soon as we learn more and more about the bubble. 

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Pedro Martinez: ‘Never Imagined’ TV Career

“And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.”

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As the Major League Baseball season comes to a close and preparations for the playoffs begin, MLB Network and TNT analyst Pedro Martinez joined The Press Box podcast to discuss his time as a television analyst.

When asked what he liked about working in television, Martinez didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“I think it’s a platform and the opportunity I have to bring to the audience what I know, what I think, what I understand and broadcasting gives me the opportunity to continue to have that communication with the people, the young athletes and fans. At the same time, I’m able to continue to learn and transmit some of the things that I would love to show everybody by playing but my body doesn’t allow me, but my mind does.

“This is a great way to bring the right information to the people, but I take advantage of the platform to communicate with my fanbase, the player’s fanbase, and the voice behind the players and the situations that come up, I can actually teach the audience some of the things that I understand from my point of view.”

A media career was never in the cards for Martinez. At least that’s what he thought during his playing career.

“I swear to god, it’s the only thing I never imagined. I never thought I would like being in front of a camera,” Martinez said. “And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.

“You learn so much just by having access to information, having access to so many other different things. A lot of people would be surprised how much you can dig into and I think for everybody else, if they knew the kind of information we have access to, they’d be intrigued to come do what we do.”

He then said one of the things he would have never picked up on was how many pitchers tip their pitches, but due to all of the information, video, and relationships broadcasters have make that information readily available. He added his work in television has enabled more relationships with baseball players from his home country, the Dominican Republic.

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Stephen A. Smith and Malika Andrews Get Heated Over Ime Udoka Coverage

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

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Stephen A. Smith, Malika Andrews

On Friday’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith continued his stance regarding the public leaking of information surrounding Celtics’ Head Coach Ime Udoka relationship with a team staffer. He also went further by sharing his dismay that Udoka was seemingly the only person punished for the violation of company policy.

“Only he is in violation of the company policy?” Smith asked. “The woman who elected to have a consensual relationship with him is not in violation?” 

Before the end of the show, ESPN NBA Today host Malika Andrews called in the program and wanted to address Smith’s comments.

“Stephen A., with all do respect, this is not about pointing the finger. Stop,” Andrews said. “The fact that we are sitting here debating whether somebody else should have been suspended or not, we are not here, Stephen A., to further blame women.”

Smith would replay saying that his intention was not blame anyone outside of the Celtics coach.

“First of all, let me be very clear, I don’t appreciate where you’re going with that, I’m not blaming anybody but Ime Udoka,” Smith stated. “The fact of the matter is, he deserves to be fired if they were going to fire him. If you’re not going to fire him, then don’t fire him. My issue is all of this being publicized.”

Andrews tried to jump back in for further commentary but Smith stopped that and noted he didn’t appreciate being interrupted on “my show”.

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

Andrews did thank Smith for clarifying his stance at the end of the segment. ESPN has removed access to the video from its YouTube channel by making it private.

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Rich Eisen on Tom Brady Joining FOX: ‘I Gotta See It to Believe It’

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow.”

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Is 2023 the year we see Tom Brady in the broadcast booth for FOX? Rich Eisen isn’t so sure.

“I still gotta see it to believe it, I’ll be honest with you, man. I know it’s a great chunk of change and it’s a lot of money. I don’t know,” the NFL Network icon said on the most recent edition of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast.

Tom Brady has taken his foot off the gas in 2022 in a more public way than fans are used to. He voluntarily missed eleven days of training camp and has announced that he will not be available to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesdays during the season.

Eisen says if Brady is looking for a less demanding career, broadcasting isn’t the best option.

“It is a lot of work. And I’m not saying Brady’s not up for it, but if he’s been grinding for 23, 24 years, it’s still a grind in its own way.”

FOX signed Brady to a ten-year deal reportedly worth $375 million to start after he retires. He will be in the network’s top broadcast booth and also serve as an ambassador for the network’s coverage of the NFL.

Eisen says there is a much better model for Brady’s media career in his old rival Peyton Manning.

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow,” Eisen said. “Peyton Manning could be making that much money in the booth himself, right? Instead, he’s got his own production company and he’s doing the games, but not all of them, only 10 of them. And he’s doing them from his basement and he’s got the rights to the games!”

He added that Tom Brady “write his own ticket like that” if he chose to do something similar to what Manning has done with Omaha Productions.

Brady has not had much to say about his deal with FOX since the news became public. In June, he told Dan Patrick that he knows his first season in the booth will come with a lot of growing pains.

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