No One Is Better at Listening to Stephen A. Smith Than Max Kellerman


The New York Knicks lost their championship game last night against the suddenly-hated Brooklyn Nets. ESPN's resident homer got as worked up over the contest as Julius Randle, only his adrenaline manifested in a more humorous way.

Here Stephen A. Smith is, going way over-the-top in a mildly believable dramatic performance of a new character he's been workshopping in recent weeks: Guy Who Is Convinced the Knicks Are Back.

Quite a performance. A shining example of why Smith is the highest-paid person at the network and is constantly being reimagined to create more content. He's so pliable and capable of things no one else is given the latitude to try. To be clear, he's more than earned the right to explore the space and get creative with his performance.

But the real star of clips like these, in a way, is Max Kellerman. He has perfected the art of sitting there and listening to Stephen A., which sounds easy but must be entirely difficult considering the desire to not break or acknowledge the absurdity of the situation. Kellerman gives Smith so much with his reactions and adroitly clears some space so his co-host can cook. It's a unique rhythm to learn and it feels as though Kellerman — and Smith — are pretty solid at not stepping on each other's toes even in a show driven by conflict.

These realizations bring about another one. ESPN+ could just have a show of people reacting to Stephen A. firing off takes like BYU-era Jimmer Fredette. Then a show reacting to the people reacting to Stephen A. and then ... well, you get where we're going here.