Sports fans were following the massive layoffs that saw ESPN lay off about 20 on-air personalities on Twitter, like following Adrian Wojnarawski’s timeline during the beginning of NBA free agency.
On the latest episode of his show, the Disney-owned sports network’s workhorse, Stephen A. Smith spoke about long-time on-air talents like Jalen Rose, Neil Everett, and more being let go.
He gave a shoutout to Rose, who he worked alongside during NBA Countdown and numerous appearances on his weekly sports debate show, First Take, and former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy.
“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,” the sports analyst said on The Stephen A. Smith Show. “It’s not Disney or ESPN that they deserved better from. They deserved better than the times we’re living in.”
“Got a lot of love for that brother,” he added. “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.”
Smith also name-dropped former NBA coach and ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy saying, “Jeff was an outstanding, brilliant basketball analyst for ESPN for years. I could say I’m gonna miss him, but I just can’t imagine he’s gonna be out of work for long. I’m sure I’ll see him on-air doing his thing. He’s been a Hall of Fame analyst and commentator.”
Stephen A. Smith Says ESPN Is Not Done & He Could Be Next
After talking about his former colleagues, Smith hinted at more possible layoffs coming, even suggesting that he could be next on the chopping block.
“If we’re going to be real about it, let’s deal with reality. This ain’t the end. More is coming,” Smith said. “And yes, ladies and gentlemen, I could be next.”
Interestingly, we do think it’s unlikely that ESPN would let go of one of its most popular personalities, joining his former First Take co-host Max Kellerman, Keyshawn Johnson, Matt Hasselbeck, Chris Chelios, Steve Young, Rob Ninkovich, Neil Everett, Ashley Brewer, Joon Lee, LaPhonso Ellis, Todd McShay, and Jason Fitz.
You can watch the entire episode of The Stephen A. Smith Show below.
Photo: Justin Casterline / Getty