Stephen A. Smith on Max Kellerman's 'First Take' Exit: The Audience Told Us We Flatlined

Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman on 'First Take.'
Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman on 'First Take.' /

Stephen A. Smith appears on the latest Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina and he shared some extremely honest insight into what happened with Max Kellerman leaving First Take and his own role in the move.

"I thought it ran its course. Even though we were number one. Numbers were dipping. Chemistry was an issue and you know, we needed to be better. I wasn’t pointing the finger at him. I was saying WE did not work as a pair.”

Smith also said that there was no bad blood between himself and Kellerman. He was very complimentary and even plugged Max's two new jobs, while being open about what really happened behind the scenes from his point of view.

"I think that Max is one of the nicest guys in the world. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about his boxing and other sports, by the way.  I knew that there were a plethora of opportunities within the company for him to be a part of, which has been proven because he’s now with Keyshawn and Jay on a nationally syndicated radio show in the morning for four hours and he’s got his own national television show in the afternoons from 2 to 3, This Just In, which I think is doing well and I wish him nothing but the best. You know, I think that people get construed thinking, you know what Stephen A. doesn’t like Max. It couldn’t be further from the truth. I like him and respect him."

"WE just weren’t working anymore because the audience was telling us that we had essentially just flatlined. We were the same. We weren’t fresh together. And so a result of that I told the bosses how I felt. Wishing him nothing but the best. Rooting for him. Making sure everybody knows if he needed me I wouldn’t hesitate to be there for him, but I’m not for going to apologize for anybody, to anybody rather, for being committed to winning. If I believe I’m part of a formula that’s not going to win any longer I’m going to change that formula. Whether its me moving on or them moving on. And that is the way I have always been. And that is the way I will continue to be."

Based on this, it seems that ratings will play a big part in how Stephen A. Smith decides which of his current co-hosts are working the best. So as usual, keep an eye on the daily numbers. He did add that he was happy with the direction the show was now headed.