Stephen A. Smith has been drawing a lot of attention for the rejuvenated First Take in recent weeks. But he’s also a big part of the revamped NBA Countdown studio show accompanying ESPN’s national NBA telecasts. Wednesday night, he reminded viewers why.
Following the New York Knicks’ 111-106 loss to a Brooklyn Nets team without Kyrie Irving, the injured Kevin Durant, recently traded James Harden, or recently acquired Ben Simmons in its lineup, Stephen A. could not withhold his disdain for what is arguably the NBA’s most disappointing team this season.
Smith began by relaying a text message he received from a friend: “We as Knicks fans deserve better than this.” And that spurred on a larger Stephen A. rant.
“The New York Knicks are a national disgrace, ladies and gentlemen,” said Smith. “They’re horrible.
“Tibbs, we’re hearing that the New York Knicks as an organization ain’t too fond of him these days. He might be out. I don’t give a damn if he was going tonight. Julius Randle, I’m done with him. Leon Rose, I mean we’ve got inmates in state penitentaries more visible than this man. He’s the president of basketball operations. We can’t find this man!”
Smith continued ripping the Knicks for another two minutes, but I think you get the point. If not, he punctuated his rant with “They are trash! Horrible!”
Wait, let’s check back in. But before that, remember when the Knicks finished fourth in the Eastern Conference (41-31 record), made the playoffs, and seemed to be a team on the rise. Right now, they’re in 12th place with a 25-34 mark going into the All-Star break. OK — carry on, Stephen A.
“Spike Lee shouldn’t even show up for the rest of the season!,” he said. “Tracy Morgan, don’t go! Don’t go! Nobody go!”
It got louder. If Stephen A.’s doctors told him to dial it down after he was hospitalized with COVID, he might have gotten a phone call of concern after this segment. Or maybe he was asked to stop in on Thursday for a check-up.
“I’m so done with this team! You just stink! I am officially embarrassed that there is video out of me last season, talking about ‘New York, stand up’!”
Jalen Rose tried to interject, but was blasted down with an “I’m not finished, Jalen!” (Mike Greenberg should make t-shirts with that on the front for after the NBA All-Star break.) Greenberg and Michael Wilbon could only laugh at the outrage, fury, and indignation on display.
It was a classic Stephen A. Smith rant. And ESPN might finally have a reason for fans to tune in for NBA Countdown besides just happening to watch before, during, and after their game broadcasts.
Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.