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Darren Smith: Chris Russo Gives ‘First Take’ An Equal to Stephen A. Smith

“I think they’ve actually found somebody with the ability to engage brain to vocal cords almost every bit as well as Stephen A.”

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Since Chris Russo began appearing on ESPN’s First Take to yell back at Stephen A. Smith in late January, the reaction among fans and sports media observers on social media has been extremely positive.

People enjoyed Russo debating Stephen A. so much that ESPN listened to the people and added “Mad Dog” as a regular guest co-host every Wednesday. Those appearances have become must-see sports TV. This week’s may have been the best yet, with the two arguing over the MLB lockout and Steph Curry being an all-time top 10 NBA player.

Later in the day, XTRA’s The Darren Smith Show marveled at how good First Take is when Russo takes on Stephen A. As Darren Smith said, the show has finally found a worthy opponent, a match for First Take’s star personality.

“I think they’ve actually found an equal to Stephen A. Smith in terms of volume, in terms of cadence,” Smith said. “I think they’ve actually found somebody with the ability to engage brain to vocal cords almost every bit as well as Stephen A.”

Marty Caswell agreed, saying the argument about Steph Curry was “phenomenal.”

For those who may have missed it, here’s a clip of the MLB lockout discussion in which Russo blamed the players union for the labor dispute, while Stephen A. argued that the owners have never negotiated in good faith.

But as Caswell pointed out, the true highlight was when Russo went crazy over Stephen A. saying Steph Curry was a top 10 player in NBA history. And if there was any doubt as to whether or not Russo was a match for Stephen A., they were shattered by Russo shouting “I’ll do the asking!” in leading the discussion.

The even better Russo outburst may have been when Smith didn’t reply to the question of Curry or Larry Bird being a better player. Russo yelling “Don’t even go there!” at the possibility that Curry might be the answer sent Stephen A. into giggles (and Molly Qerim laughing with him).

When Stephen A. tried to counter that Curry was the greatest shooter in NBA history, Russo nearly jumped through the camera. “We’re not talking about shooting!” he screamed while clapping his hands furiously, then making a frenzied shooting motion.

Russo may have shouted his earpiece into malfunction when Stephen A. tried to argue for Curry over Bill Russell. Altogether, it was an electric three minutes of television, an exchange in which Smith actually backed down in the face of Russo’s fury.

Would that ever have happened against Max Kellerman? Would social media and sports media have been so riveted? We all know the answer.

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Bob Cousy: ‘JJ Redick Is Untalented Using Me To Get Attention On ESPN’

“People with less talent will always try to make a name for themselves by criticizing other people and hopefully getting some attention and perhaps increasing their credibility,” Cousy said.

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Celtics legend Bob Cousy was not too happy with J.J. Redick dissing his game and credibility as an all-time great player.

During an appearance on First Take, Redick got into a fiery debate with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo about whether Chris Paul deserves to be mentioned among the best point guards in NBA history despite another disappointing exit from the playoffs. Russo claimed that Paul is “no Bob Cousy” which prompted Redick to retort, saying Cousy couldn’t even dribble with his left hand and called the players he played against, “plumbers” and “firemen.”

“Bob Cousy won championships when there were eight teams in the NBA and you had to win two playoff series,” Reddick said. “Let’s celebrate Bob Cousy in his era, but you can’t compare pre-1980 with the modern NBA.”

The 93-old Cousy made an appearance on SiriusXM Radio where he went scorched earth on Redick, basically calling the ESPN analyst “untalented” while listing some of the players that he went up against in his era.

“People with less talent will always try to make a name for themselves by criticizing other people and hopefully getting some attention and perhaps increasing their credibility,” Cousy said.

“So when you respond to something like this, you play into their hands. I won’t do that, but I will defend the firemen and the plumbers that he referenced. And I’ll just give you a few of the names of these firemen that I played with and against during those years. How about Bill Russell, the aforementioned, not too bad a player. Wilt Chamberlain, remember that guy? He wasn’t bad. I guess he must have fought fires as well. But in any event, Wilt Chamberlain.

“Still the best, in my judgment, small forward that ever played the game, a guy named Elgin Baylor. A couple of point guards that weren’t too shabby, my colleague who also had an award created [in his name], guy named Oscar Robertson, who was pound for pound the best player perhaps in the game.”

Chris Paul is a 12-time All-Star compared to Cousy’s 13 appearances.

One thing Paul and Bob Cousy do have in common is their aptitude for leadership. Cousy developed and started the NBA players union in 1954, being named its first president. Paul served in that same role from 2013-2021.

The two men also share similarities off the court. Cousy was a stanch anti-racist advocate during the civil rights era 50s and 60s, when it wasn’t all that popular to so. Paul has also spoke out on issues regarding race, working with commissioner Adam Silver to address some of the issues facing the black community.

Maybe the two have more in common than either Redick or Russo would like to admit.

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Cole Cubelic: ‘A Lot Of Media Wasn’t Prepared To Talk About Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher’

“There were multiple other messages that were attempted to be delivered by Nick Saban two nights ago that I don’t think anybody paid attention to, and I’m wondering if Jimbo paid attention to them.”

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The comments from Alabama football coach Nick Saban regarding other teams allegedly “buying” their players through the new rules pertaining to name, image and likeness (NIL) deals has set the college football world abuzz.

In his comments, Saban directly accused Texas A&M Head Coach and one of his former assistant coaches at Louisiana State University Jimbo Fisher of unreasonably using NIL deals to recruit college football players, and remarked that the system as a whole has created a fundamental disadvantage for certain programs. Additionally, he stated that Alabama has never tried to lure a player solely based on these deals; however, he left the door open to potentially having to adjust his recruitment strategy to align with the actions of his competitors around him.

Much of the college football world weighed in on the comments, but the voice everyone was waiting to hear was that of Jimbo Fisher, including McElroy and Cubic in the Morning on Jox 94.5 FM in Birmingham, Ala. On Friday morning, the program opened with show co-host Cole Cubelic reacting to the candid response given by Fisher in a news conference carried on multiple media outlets in which Fisher called Saban a “narcissist.”

“When we’ve had coaching feuds before, we’ve had guys go back and forth; we’ve had guys go at one another, sometimes in a little bit more of a subtle way; sometimes maybe a less-confrontational way,” Cubelic said. “Jimbo even said it yesterday – he’s not afraid of confrontation; he’s not worried about it.”

An aspect of what has made this discordance between two highly-accomplished and eminent coaches a story being followed across the college football landscape is the fact that it has taken place within the public sphere. When Saban appeared on SiriusXM Radio and apologized for singling out Texas A&M in his comments from earlier in the week, there was not much emotion involved, according to Cubelic. Fisher’s remarks in his press conference though, were of a completely different sentiment – and may have escalated the situation altogether.

“Debates often turn to arguments as soon as emotions become involved,” Cubelic said. “…Jimbo Fisher yesterday at 10 a.m. – that felt emotional; that felt personal, and that one had to dig deep. Jimbo Fisher said yesterday he doesn’t anticipate things are going to be repaired. I don’t see in a way that these two sort of get things back in line.”

“The bridge is burned both ways,” added show co-host Greg McElroy. “They’ll probably shake hands; do what they need to do pregame. But as far as any love lost? Nah, that’s a wrap.”

A part of this story that remains seminal when reporting or commenting on it is listening to the full extent of the comments from both Saban and Fisher on the situation so as to more effectively contextualize and comprehend the situation. Cubelic said that he did multiple interviews on different programs yesterday, and some of the interviewers, as he anticipated, had solely listened to portions of the comments, rendering them not completely prepared to have a truly pertinent discussion about the topic at hand.

“We said it here on the show yesterday morning — right out of the gate — people are going to take the Miami; the Jackson State; and the Texas A&M stuff, and they’re going to clip it and they’re going to play it and they’re going to read it and that’s all they’re going to pay attention to,” said Cubelic. “There were multiple other messages that were attempted to be delivered by Nick Saban two nights ago that I don’t think anybody paid attention to, and I’m wondering if Jimbo paid attention to them.”

Jimbo Fisher and the Texas A&M Aggies visit Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide on October 8 in a matchup that will sure to be a primary topic of discussion in the weeks and months leading to kickoff.

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Doug Gottlieb On Praise For Pat Beverly: ‘What a Joke!’

“To be in the NBA and say things that are demonstrably false, outright mean, and oh by the way, obtuse to reality and turns people off to your sport.”

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Pat Beverley of the Minnesota Timberwolves may have used his appearances this week on ESPN to set up a potential career in media, but some just simply weren’t impressed.

You can count Doug Gottlieb among them. Gottlieb said Wednesday that Beverley’s takes on Suns guard Chris Paul and words for Matt Barnes regarding James Harden’s contract didn’t do him any favors for the future.

“Pat Beverley, if you’re going to die on a hill, James Harden’s hill is not the one to die on,” Gottlieb said. “In a week in which you have a chance to carve out a potential career for yourself which is as good, or greater than your NBA career. What a joke!”

Gottlieb added that Beverley also lost people completely “acting like the arrogant NBA athlete that so many assume that NBA athletes are.”

“To be in the NBA and say things that are demonstrably false, outright mean, and oh by the way, obtuse to reality and turns people off to your sport,” he said. “Congratulations, hell of a week and you’re only in day two.”

While Beverley may not have Gottlieb singing his praises as an analyst, the T-Wolves journeyman did get the attention of Barstool Sports president Dave Portnoy. Portnoy said if Beverley wanted to do a podcast for the company, he would give him a blank check and hire him no questions asked.

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