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Stephen A. Smith: 2022 NBA Slam Dunk Contest Was ‘National Atrocity’

“It was so bad, it’s one of the rare moments that I think we should actually hide the trophy… That’s how bad it was.”

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Other than the All-Star Game, the highlight of NBA All-Star Weekend has often been the Slam Dunk Contest. But this year, the exhibition was, well, anything but a slam dunk.

The contest was widely panned on social media, largely for competitors missing so many dunks. But lack of creativity and a serious lack of star power — something that’s plagued what used to be a showcase for the league — were also cited as major problems.

Simply put, when the league’s most explosive dunkers (hello, Ja Morant) aren’t participating in the contest, it’s a huge problem. The days of Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins wowing fans seem so long ago.

So it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that Stephen A. Smith would be ready to unleash on the NBA Slam Dunk Contest during Monday’s First Take. And unlike Juan Toscano-Anderson, Cole Anthony, Jalen Green, and eventual winner Obi Toppin, Stephen A. did not disappoint.

“That was the worst slam dunk contest in the history of basketball,” Smith said as Molly Qerim and Kendrick Perkins sat back in anticipation of the fury to come. “It was a national atrocity. It was awful. Somebody needs to say it, so I’m gonna say it.”

OK, plenty of people were saying it. However, they’re not Stephen A. Smith and they don’t have the national platform of ESPN’s First Take. Apologies for the interruption. Let Smith continue.

“Now I’m happy that a Knick won something. We actually had a New York Knick that won something. That was Obi Toppin,” Smith added, compelling Qerim to cover her face with her notes. “It was so bad, it’s one of the rare moments that I think we should actually hide the trophy. We should actually hide the trophy. That’s how bad it was.”

The clip above has to be watched in its entirety to get the full effect, including Smith saying he, at 54 with bad knees, could have missed as many dunks as the professionals who participated and his proposal for a national slam dunk tournament to find athletes who can put on a show.

Sure, Stephen A. could have celebrated Steph Curry’s 50-point performance in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game. And he did, calling him the face of the NBA right now over LeBron James. But greatness doesn’t work up nearly as much outrage as mediocrity or failure. And the tirade wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable. That probably wasn’t an All-Star Stephen A. rant, but it was a good one.

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Fox Officially Unveils NFL Broadcast Teams

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In what has been considered a formality for some time, Fox today officially unveiled Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, and Tom Rinaldi as their number one NFL broadcast team Monday. Burkhardt and Olsen were elevated to Fox’s top booth after the departure of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN’s Monday Night Football earlier this year.

There were some reports that Drew Brees could have been a possibility to join the network, but those discussions fell apart.

The network’s other teams include several familiar faces to football fans:

#2 team: Joe Davis, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Pam Oliver
#3 team: Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Kristina Pink
#4 team: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake
#5 team: Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin
#6 team: Chris Myers, Robert Smith, Jen Hale

Olsen’s jump to the number one team with Burkhardt is a formality until the retirement of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl winner will ascend to Fox’s number one booth upon his retirement, whenever that may be.

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Ryan Clark, Mad Dog Get Into Heated Argument on ‘First Take’

“Mad Dog, stop screaming at me now, bro. For the last time, you’re gonna stop screaming at me,” Clark interrupted.

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Former Pittsburgh Steeler, and current ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark and recent Radio Hall of Fame inductee Chris “Mad Dog” Russo squared off on Monday’s edition of First Take, with a heated exchange taking place between the two.

After a discussion about Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas meandered into a discussion about whether Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp would be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame if he never played another game, Clark said about Hall of Fame voters “they must be voting like you (Russo) vote for the Heisman, where you just vote on whoever the hell you want based off the fact that they play quarterback”.

Russo quickly took exception to the perceived slight.

“Ryan, hold on now,” Russo said, in a louder manner than normal. “You said something, now I’m going to comment. I’ve been voting for the Heisman since before you were born.”

“Mad Dog, stop screaming at me now, bro. For the last time, you’re gonna stop screaming at me,” Clark interrupted.

“You said something that wasn’t right,” Russo said.

“Lower your voice,” the former Steeler interrupted again.

“I’ve been voting for the Heisman since before you were born,” Mad Dog reiterated, with a lower volume. “30 years.”

“I don’t care about that,” Clark rebutted.

“You’re saying I’m voting for the Heisman and saying I don’t deserve a vote. I’ve been voting for 30 years!”, Russo began to raise his voice again.

“I never said you don’t deserve a vote,” Clark replied before clarifying he disagrees with Russo’s sentiment about the college football award being only awarded to quarterbacks.

It’s not the first time Russo has clashed with First Take contributors. A discussion with J.J. Reddick went viral earlier this year after Reddick told Russo previous NBA players played with “plumbers and firefighters”.

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Todd Frazier Joining ESPN Little League World Series Booth

It will be a memorable summer for Fraizer at the LLWS because he will be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. 

Ricky Keeler

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When people talk about 11-year MLB veteran Todd Frazier, some of the things that are usually mentioned on broadcasts usually is that he is from Toms River, New Jersey and that he played in the Little League World Series in 1998 (won the championship). Now, Frazier will have a bigger connection to the annual event in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

As first reported by Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati EnquirerFrazier will be in the TV booth (remotely) for ESPN for this year’s Little League World Series. He made his broadcast debut on Monday morning during one of the New England region semifinals between Maine and Massachusetts. 

Frazier told Nightengale that he wants to use this event to begin his second career in the broadcasting industry.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, especially for the Little League World Series since I’ve been a part of it. I know it and understand it really well. Kind of kickstart my second career here.” 

It will be a memorable summer for Fraizer at the LLWS because he will be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. 

The Little League World Series begins on Wednesday, August 17 and ends on Sunday, August 28. It will be broadcasted on ESPN and ABC.  

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