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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.”

Ricky Keeler

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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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The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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