ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith Discusses “Unorthodox” Friendship With Skip Bayless

Bayless, Smith's former co-host on "First Take," left ESPN in 2016

Skip Bayless Staying With Fox Sports After ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith Reunion Bid Falls Short
ESPN hosts Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless in 2014.
Larry Busacca

Even though they are no longer teammates, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith still has a lot of love for his fellow sports broadcaster Skip Bayless.

During an appearance on YES Network’s CenterStage with Michael Kay, Smith discussed the “unorthodox” friendship he has with Bayless, his former co-host on First Take. 

“I mean no disrespect to anybody, but that’s my brother,” Smith remarked, per Awful Announcing. “Skip Bayless and I are tight and we’re tight in a very different and unorthodox way. You’ll never see us hanging together. We might go out to dinner. His definition of a vice is Diet Mountain Dew. That’s Skip Bayless, he’s a devout Christian. I try to be. So we’re very different, but I’ll tell you for the purposes of a debate show, that’s my man.”

Bayless left ESPN for Fox in 2016.

After discussing Bayless, Smith also talked about his replacement, Max Kellerman.

“It still is a challenge. And I say that with all due respect to Max, who I genuinely like,” Smith said. “Max is one of the best people you’ll ever meet. He’s an incredibly nice guy, very, very intelligent. He has a cerebral approach to things. And here is the only difference between somebody like him and somebody like and various others. Max is the kind of person that genuinely believes this is how he feels. ‘And if you don’t understand, I have to convince you because you just don’t get it, you’re not understanding. Because you couldn’t possibly disagree with me.’ That’s Max. Skip and I don’t give a damn whether you agree with me or not.”

Swapping out Kellerman for Bayless may not have made Smith very happy personally, but it has certainly helped him out professionally as he’s set to become the highest-paid personality at the Worldwide Leader, making close to $10 million per year.

Smith’s importance to ESPN’s brand will only increase now that the longest-tenured anchor in the network’s history, Bob Ley, has announced his retirement.

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