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Stephen A. Smith Apologizes For Implying Jehovah’s Witnesses Are Anti-Vaccine

“Andrew Wiggins also was hesitant about taking the vaccine. He’s a Jehovah’s Witness, from what I’m told.”

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On Thursday’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith apologized to Jehovah’s Witnesses for implying that the denomination is opposed to taking the COVID-19 vaccine while discussing Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins being voted to the NBA All-Star team as a Western Conference starter.

“I made a mistake last week and I want to make sure that I clarify myself,” Smith said (via Mediaite’s Brandon Contes). “Last week, when discussing the incredible accomplishments of Andrew Wiggins this season… I introduced his religion in the discussion about vaccination.

“I could have and should have been more clear in that discussion. Because I fully understand that Jehovah’s Witnesses have no specific opposition to the vaccine. I did not make that clear, so I want to make sure I make that now and my apologies for the mishap.”

The video clip is available to watch at Mediaite.

Smith made his remarks in reaction to the NBA All-Star starters being announced. Wiggins being named to this season’s NBA All-Star team. The eight-year veteran is averaging 18.3 points and shooting 42 percent from three-point range.

“Andrew Wiggins also was hesitant about taking the vaccine. He’s a Jehovah’s Witness, from what I’m told,” Smith said on First Take. “And took [the vaccine] because ‘my team needs me.’”

Being characterized as anti-vaccine on a national sports program caused some unhappiness and misconception to which Jehovah’s Witnesses felt compelled to reply.

Smith was critical of Wiggins earlier in the season when the Warriors star sought a religious exemption from taking the vaccine, which the NBA denied. Faced with not being able to play home games in San Francisco, where attendees to large indoor events were required to show they were vaccinated, Wiggins eventually ceded and got vaccinated.

Last July, Smith apologized for remarks he made about Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani, saying he couldn’t be the face of Major League Baseball because he doesn’t speak English. For a good part of that First Take episode, he listened to several ESPN staffers including Jeff Passan and Joon Lee tell him why he was wrong.

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Shannon Sharpe Apologizes to Richard Jefferson for Calling Him Lazy

Jordan Bondurant

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Shannon Sharpe

FS1’s Shannon Sharpe took to social media to clear the air between him and ESPN’s Richard Jefferson over some comments Sharpe made about the former NBA champion.

Sharpe said Jefferson was lazy for only wanting to talk about basketball. Jefferson is an NBA analyst for ESPN and doesn’t normally appear on debate shows or provide analysis on other sports.

“There is not a person in this industry since I have retired that would ever refer to my work ethic as being lazy,” Jefferson said in a response video on his TikTok. “So as long as you live don’t ever do that again or this conversation is gonna be much different.”

Sharpe saw the video and apologized saying his assessment of Jefferson was lazy.

“I want to apologize, I come to you as a man, Rich, and apologize to you for my take on what you said,” he said.

Much like Jefferson did, Sharpe then went on to break down the differences between hosts on debate shows who have to watch and study various different sports and analysts like Jefferson who only specialize in analyzing one sport.

But ultimately Sharpe wanted to bury the hatchet and make it clear to the internet that there’s no problems between the two.

“Richard and I do not have a beef,” Sharpe said. “There is nothing going on, and this is my last time addressing this issue.”

Jefferson tweeted on Saturday accepting Shannon’s apology.

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NBA Sees Over $800 Million in Advertising Revenue for 2022 Playoffs

Data shows league ad sales for both Disney and Turner Sports, the NBA’s two national TV rights holders, will eclipse $1.3 billion when the playoffs and regular season are factored together.

Jordan Bondurant

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NBA Finals

The NBA and its media partners saw quite a boost in ad revenue over the course of the 2022 playoffs.

Yahoo! cited data from iSpot.tv in a recent report indicating the league saw $842.4 million in revenue for the postseason. That number was up 19% compared to last year and up 54% from 2019.

Data shows league ad sales for both Disney and Turner Sports, the NBA’s two national TV rights holders, will eclipse $1.3 billion when the playoffs and regular season are factored together. The figure makes for a 45% bump from 2020-21 and 39% from 2018-19.

State Farm, AT&T, Google Pixel and Kia Motors were the biggest ad spenders for this season. State Farm spent just over $40 million while AT&T and Google both spent over $30 million.

Despite the television viewership still not climbing back to pre-pandemic levels, the NBA has certainly kept it broadcast partners happy.

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Media Rights Deals are Recession-Proof, Benefit from Longer Terms

As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year

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The U.S. economy may be in the “worry” phase about an upcoming recession, but if recent television deals are any indication, sports leagues are not. Media rights deals continue to skyrocket despite all of other financial indicators showing that people, businesses are currently struggling.

As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year. Those are just a couple of examples of the massive figures that seem to run counter what the average person is dealing with.

Media rights seem to be unharmed by overall macroeconomic environment. It’s interesting to look at why.

One of the main reasons seems to be scarcity. There are only so many NFLs in the world. The number might be one. If you have those media rights, you have access to a multitude of cashflow. It’s important to have the product that people want. Since people will not stop wanting their sports, it’s important to have live sports.

Also, fan participation isn’t one that seems to dwindle, overall, even in a pandemic or financial crunch. Fans care about their team, sport and the league they are in. That kind of fervor for a product makes payment to them or to whomever owns their rights to see them, a foregone conclusion.

A huge reason, also, for the value of a franchise and/or media rights deal to be largely unharmed by current economic climates is their length. Those rights are structured to be long-term and hopefully weather whatever financial crisis may be on the horizon in a hope that it is temporary.

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