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Stephen A. Smith: ‘I’ve Never Lost a Debate Ever’

“When it comes to basketball, I’m really asking you as a technicality. I know the answer. I just want to see whether or not you are going to lie to me about it.”

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Whether it’s Skip Bayless, Max Kellerman, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, or any other people Stephen A. Smith debates or has debated on First Take in the past, one thing you will find out is that he never feels he has lost that debate.

On the latest episode of Just Getting Started with Rich Eisen (now Suzy Shuster) on the Cumulus Podcast Network, Smith said that even when he doesn’t feel like he won a debate, learning something about that topic in the end makes him believe he couldn’t ever possibly lose.

“I’ve never lost a debate ever,” said Smith. “I’m either right or I’ve learned something new by being wrong, which makes me brighter, more intelligent about that particular issue we were broaching, which means I’m a winner because I’m going to be better for it than I was before we started the debate. How did I lose?”

While Smith knows he has a lot of knowledge about all sports, basketball is the one sport that he’ll use questions to figure out if people are telling the truth. Some of that comes from his experience playing college basketball at Winston-Salem State University. 

“When it comes to basketball, I know basketball. When it comes to sports, I know football from watching it, I know baseball from watching it,” Smith explained. “Boxing and stuff, I know enough of it to be able to interview you about it and ask you questions and things of that nature. When it comes to basketball, I’m really asking you as a technicality. I know the answer. I just want to see whether or not you are going to lie to me about it. That’s really the difference between me covering basketball and covering every other sport.

“I know the nooks and crannies of it all. I also studied in a way where I am looking for certain things. When I go to a team or a player, I’ve spoken to them ahead of time about what their definition of success is. I evaluate whether it vibes with my thought of what their definition of success should be and I judge their actions accordingly as the season goes on. I’ve been that way since Day 1 in my career.”

Even when players might disagree with what Smith has to say, he said he’s confident enough to have that conversation. With the confidence he shows, players ultimately learn that they might disagree, but Smith shows them he know what he’s talking about.

“When I talk basketball with guys and they’ve attacked me or come at me… we can sit down and have a conversation,” said Smith. “By the time I said bring your boys since you’re so bold…they quickly learn, ‘He does know what he’s talking about.’ Even if they disagree with me, they know that I know what I’m talking about. Those are the kind of things that influenced my career tremendously because it gave me a confidence I never had anywhere else.”

Towards the end of the interview, Shuster asked Smith why he thinks he resonates with so many people and he thinks it is because of his authenticity.

“I believe it’s because people know they can trust me to say what I truly mean,” Smith said. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to be right. It doesn’t mean they are not going to disagree with me. They know they can trust me to be who the hell I say I am. When I say something, I actually mean it and I’m not saying it for effects, not saying it for ratings, not saying it for clicks or just so you read my article.

“I want you to do those things because I want to get paid, but I mean what I say and I’m fearless with it. I think they see this fearlessness that I approach my job with and I think you combine that with the fact that I say the things that people think and say off-the-air, but they don’t believe it can be said on-the-air, that’s where it all started.”

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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.”

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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.

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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?”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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