With a salary that stretches to 10 figures, what Stephen A. Smith wants, Stephen A. Smith gets.
He wanted former “First Take” host Max Kellerman off the show, and that’s exactly what happened. Smith elaborated on his thought process during an appearance on New York City morning radio program “Ebro in the Morning.”
“The rumors are accurate in terms of me wanting him off the show. Let’s get that out of the way,” Smith said.
Smith maintained the two had a good relationship and that he liked Kellerman. Their on-air chemistry had waned, he explained.
“Sometimes it just stalls,” said Smith. “And the audience lets you know that it is what it is, and you feel the need for something fresh, you feel the need to retool. … It’s not like I wanted the guy to be fired or anything like that. I knew that there were landing spots for him available at this network that would generate just as much, if not more, revenue for him and all of that other stuff. It wasn’t really about asking him to be off the show. It was about the fact that we, together, as far as I was concerned, was not a great partnership anymore, and that was something that needed to change.”
Kellerman now assumes a larger role in the ESPN radio lineup, cohosting the morning drive time with Keyshawn Johnson and Jay Williams. His new sports variety show that will air for one hour (2-3 p.m. ET) Monday through Friday debuts on Sept. 14.
During a January interview with USA TODAY Sports, Smith called the duo — who worked together for five years — a “work in progress.”
“Max is one of those guys who wants to convince you to see the error of your ways. It’s important to him that you side with him. So a lot of time is spent trying to convince you how knowledgeable he is, as opposed to simply taking his side and saying, ‘The rest of the world can kiss my you-know-what,’ ” Smith said then. “I’m the kind of person who’s like, ‘This is how I feel and unless you prove me wrong, I don’t give a damn what you feel.’ That’s the difference between he and I, and that’s what makes it challenging at times, is the only thing.”
Smith will now debate an assembly line of ESPN personalities on “First Take,” including Michael Irvin and Tim Tebow. Molly Qerim Rose remains as the moderator.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why Stephen A. Smith wanted Max Kellerman off ESPN’s ‘First Take’