Stephen A. Smith

Stephen A. Smith Gives A Thoughful Farewell To Colleagues Who Were Laid Off At ESPN

In recent weeks, ESPN has caused quite a stir as massive layoffs have seen several well-known sports journalists bid farewell to the beloved network. Stephen A. Smith, one of the network’s biggest stars, spoke on the uncertain future of those who remain, including his own.

During an episode of The Stephen A. Smith Show, the 55-year-old First Take host expressed respect for his peers who have now found themselves unemployed and spoke to the grim reality of broadcasting. “ESPN laid off about 20 members of its on-air talent … friends of mine, actually, definitely respected colleagues who’d done a phenomenal job and deserved better,” he said. “It’s not Disney or ESPN that they deserved better from; they deserved better than the times we’re living in.”

The Walt Disney Co., the umbrella that ESPN falls under, has been taking extreme cost-cutting measures in recent months, laying off over 7,000 employees across different brands, according to The Root.

One of the more surprising layoffs was NBA Countdown host Jalen Rose. A fan favorite and former NBA player, Rose had become a crucial part of the team responsible for hosting the Finals. Alongside Malika Andrews and Kendrick Perkins, the former Indiana Pacers forward set the tone for the show with his unique style and knowledge of the game. “Got a lot of love for that brother,” Smith said about Rose. “A lot of the great work he’s done over the years, what he’s represented for the company… I’m going to miss him. Jalen Rose has always been good to me and I loved working with him on NBA Countdown. He is a brilliant basketball mind, he is somebody that worked his ass off all the time. There was never an assignment he backed away from, there was never a time he didn’t want to work.”

As for his future, Smith doesn’t feel exempt from the rapid changes happening in and around the industry. “If we’re going to be real about it, let’s deal with reality,” he said. “This ain’t the end, more is coming. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, I could be next.”