Stephen A. Smith Took Plenty Of Cheap Shots At Max Kellerman And Destroyed Him On Joe Budden's Podcast, Now Saying "I Didn’t Like Working With Him"

AwfulAnnouncing - It’s been more than two years since Max Kellerman’s departure from ESPN’s First Take. But Stephen A. Smith still finds himself discussing the matter.

Appearing on The Joe Budden Podcast on Thursday, Smith was asked about his split from Kellerman, who co-hosted the daily debate show from 2016-2021. And as he is wont to do, Smith didn’t hold back, making it clear that he didn’t enjoy working alongside the original Around the Horn host.

“I would take full responsibility for that,” Smith answered when asked about the perceived tension between himself and Kellerman toward the end of their run. “It was totally my fault and the reason it was my fault is because I didn’t like working with him.”

“It’s just that **** simple. I didn’t like it. I thought the show was stale. I thought that we had flatlined when it came to the public at large. I didn’t want to go from No. 1 to No. 2. when Skip [Bayless] left. I wasn’t having that. That **** wasn’t gonna happen.”

Smith continued: “I had mad respect for him from the standpoint of white dude, highly intelligent, Ivy League, educated from Columbia. Smart as a whip. Can talk his *** off. Can talk about anything. I get all that. But you weren’t an athlete, and you weren’t a journalist. And the absence of the two components left people wondering ‘why should we listen to you?'”

Is anybody else sick and tired of Stephen A. Smith and his bullshit?

This guy acts like he got to where he is based on his accolades and experience and not because he's a ranting and raving lunatic. Granted, yes, he's created an unbelievably successful brand for himself that has resulted in "sports opinion television" conforming to basically mimick him and his persona, but I wouldn't argue that's a good thing.

"But you weren't an athlete, and you weren't a journalist"... are you kidding me? 

Stephen A. rode the bench at Winston-Salem (A D2 school) after transferring there from The Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, (for real).

He had a quick stint writing articles at the Philadelphia Inquirer before getting a shot with ESPN.

Back in 2011 First Take didn't even exist. It was a show on ESPN hosted by Jay Crawford and Dana Jacobson called Cold Pizza. (Real ones know). Skip Bayless wasn't even the main draw on the show back then. They would rotate various guests in and out that Crawford (the one who in all honesty carried the show) and Jacobson would bounce questions and topics off of. In 2012 Bayless became the mainstay, with other rotated guests who would "debate" him. Thus, First Take was born. Smith was added not much later and became a permanent fixture. 

He wasn't some decorated, tenured athlete, or Red Smith Award-winning journalist. He stood out because all the other journalists on the show besides Skip were stiffs with no personality. (Or booming voice and melodramatics). He perfected the art of contrived contrarianism. And it resulted in ratings. 

He was fired prior in 2009 from ESPN. He had a radio show and a regular piece on that never resonated with the public or put up numbers. So Smith went back to the drawing board, figured out a new persona, and returned a few years later playing the same character he is today. In 2016 when Bayless jumped ship to head to FS1 and take over his own show, Smith was promoted to take over his spot. A position he's held down and expanded on ever since, all to his credit.

It's whatever to me. There's a reason it's called sports entertainment. He's entertaining and says some off-the-wall shit. He kills it in the role he's in. But he also overdoes it. A lot.

Like the time he defended Ray Rice beating his girlfriend senseless.

Or shit on the USA Women's soccer team after they won gold. 

He may be wrong a lot, but he's brash, and he engages the public, draws eyeballs, and stays relevant.

He also goes out of his way to shit on a guy he seemed very tight with for years when working with him: Max Kellerman.

This was shortly after Kellerman was let go in 2021 (something Smith now confirmed was his doing)

He's also still making shit up, passing it off as facts, like he did further in his interview with Budden, this time saying "Shannon Sharpe was pushed out" of his show with Bayless on FS1, Undisputed.


So Shannon never no showed a few months ago before the breakup, over a tweet Skip posted about Damar Hamlin?

And Shannon never approached Fox shortly after that blowup requesting a buyout?

But we're supposed to believe that Stephen A. Smith called for and had numerous one-on-one conversations with Kellerman where he addressed his issues with him?

And that as the situation persisted, Smith decided to take matters into his own hands? 

“At some point, you’re gonna do what you need to do or you don’t, and if you don’t do what you need to do, I’m gonna get somebody who will. That’s me. I made no qualms about it.”

Giphy Images.

Smith went on to claim: “But at the end of the day, it was all business to me. It was about, ‘Look, man, I’m trying to win, and I don’t believe I can with you.’ That doesn’t mean it’s your fault. it means we don’t work.”


"I can't win with you." Dude, you're not Lebron James. You're a host on a show that talks about Lebron James.

This whole thing wreaks of Stephen A. once again camouflaging himself like a chameleon based on whoever he's talking to and whoever his audience is. At the end of the day you worked with the guy for 6 years on a daily basis. Show a little class and have a little respect for the guy now that he's out of a job "because of you".

I'd respect the fuck out of the guy if he just came out and said ever since Kellerman told the world Tom Brady was too old and fell off a cliff you wanted nothing to do with him. That's a believable statement and justifiable reason at least.

p.s. - for those asking "who the fuck is joe budden?" He's one of the most underrated rappers of all time. He's from New Jersey. He had one of the most slept-on and underpromoted debut albums ever (nice work def jam). and he was a pioneer in the podcast game and launched pretty much the first hip hop based podcast. He's now grown that into one of the most popular and downloaded podcasts in the world. hh

Here's the entire episode.