Stephen A. Smith says feud with Skip Bayless 'is nothing more than a misunderstanding'

Mike D. Sykes, II
For The Win

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless beefing all these years later after making magic on First Take was certainly not on my 2022 bingo card.

But, alas. It happened. There was some animosity between the two former co-hosts that seemingly came out of nowhere.

It all started with Smith jumping on JJ Reddick’s The Old Man and the Three podcast and explaining how his career took off on First Take and how the show’s ratings skyrocketed through the roof when he began making permanent appearances along with Skip Bayless.

“Skip Bayless comes to me in the parking lot of ESPN’s campus in Bristol, Connecticut, and he says, ‘I know you’ve got your plans. You love the NBA. You love being out on the road. You love being in the locker room. But I need you," Smith said on the podcast. "I’ve done all that I could to take this as far as it can go. I need you, please. Just give me three years. I think we’ll knock it out of the park.’” 

Bayless clearly took that as Smith saying he carried the show himself to the success it has today without acknowledging the role he played in it.

“Stephen A. was suggesting that he saved and then made First Take," Bayless said on his own podcast. "How can you save and make a show that was already as big a billion to one success story as ESPN had ever seen? The ratings and the revenues were impossibly great when Stephen A. joined me in 2012. ” 

A few hours after Bayless dropped a response video on his podcast, Stephen A. came back with a statement on Twitter to properly explain what he meant.

He made clear that he did not "lie about a damn thing” but also said the whole situation "is nothing more than a misunderstanding." 

“Skip Bayless is my brother. I will always love this man and I will always be grateful. No matter how far I continue to climb, I have him to thank. My comments about the state of First Take at that time is what I was told. It certainly wasn’t meant to slight my brother.” 

What’s more, though, is he seems to be disappointed Bayless doesn’t know that there are no hard feelings here from Smith already.

“The sad part about that portion of this is that he appears to not know that…despite my consistent commentary over the years regarding how much he means to me.” 

You absolutely hate to see it. Clearly, this is Smith making an overture to try and squash this thing before it becomes something bigger than it is.

Hopefully, it works. If not, we’ll just get more Kevin Durant tweets. Which, ya know, honestly? That’s not so bad, either.