Stephen A. Smith Says He Hasn’t Spoken To Max Kellerman: ‘I Didn’t Like Working With Him’

Stephen A Smith Max Kellerman


In an appearance on The Joe Budden Podcast, Stephen A. Smith, the star of ESPN’s First Take, opened up about his tumultuous working relationship with former co-host Max Kellerman.

The pair worked together from 2016 until Kellerman’s departure in September 2021, and the behind-the-scenes tension between them has long been a topic of speculation and discussion.

Smith, known for his candid and outspoken personality, did not mince words when addressing the matter, shedding light on the reasons behind their professional separation.

“It was totally my fault and the reason it was my fault is because I didn’t like working with him. It’s just that damn simple,” Stephen A. explained.

“I thought the show was stale. I thought that we had flatlined when it came to the public at large. I didn’t want to go from No. 1 to No. 2 when Skip [Bayless] left. I wasn’t having that. That s— wasn’t gonna happen.” Smith said.

Smith acknowledged Kellerman’s intelligence and communication skills but highlighted a perceived gap in their qualifications and expertise.

“I had mad respect for him from the standpoint of a white dude, highly intelligent, Ivy League–educated from Columbia. Smart as a whip. Can talk his ass off. Can talk about anything. I get all that. But you weren’t an athlete, and you weren’t a journalist. And the absence of the two components left people wondering ‘why should we listen to you?’”

Smith continued to express his concerns, pointing out that the show’s audience metrics indicated a significant disparity in their popularity. “It was like I was damn near doing the show by myself because we were oceans apart in terms of cache,” he asserted.

In an attempt to address these issues, Smith revealed that he engaged in numerous one-on-one conversations with Kellerman.

As the situation persisted, Smith decided to take matters into his own hands: “At some point, you’re gonna do what you need to do or you don’t, and if you don’t do what you need to do, I’m gonna get somebody who will. That’s me. I made no qualms about it.”

Smith clarified that he did not have the authority to terminate Kellerman’s employment but emphasized that his actions were motivated by business considerations rather than personal animosity.

“We weren’t enemies, to be real we haven’t spoken since, other than ‘hi and bye’ or if I had to go on the show when they were doing the morning show, I would get interviewed. But there’s been no conversations since. And that’s fine with me. That’s no problem because it wasn’t like we were boys or anything like that,” Smith stated.

“But at the end of the day, it was all business to me. It was about, ‘Look, man, I’m trying to win, and I don’t believe I can with you.’ That doesn’t mean it’s your fault. it means we don’t work.”

Stephen A. Smith’s interview provides valuable insights into the dynamics of one of ESPN’s most-watched morning shows.