5) Stephen A. Smith vs Kevin Durant


Usually we like to have fun with these media feuds… but I’m still personally gobsmacked that an ESPN employee can go on the air, threaten an NBA player like he’s a mob boss, and face no repercussions whatsoever.  Stephen A. Smith has done a lot of things that have embarrassed ESPN over the years and this should be at or near the top of the list.  Yes, Kevin Durant challenged him and his reporting.  But to go over the top in his response and say “you do not want to make an enemy out of me”?  Quite frankly, it’s appalling that ESPN could be ok with that.

4) Dan Dakich vs WEEI

Back to the cartoonishly entertaining part of our countdown.  There was perhaps no better sports media smackdown this year than when Dan Dakich taught former Patriots TE and current WEEI radio personality Christian Fauria a lesson after Fauria attempted a prank call on Dakich’s Indianapolis radio show.  That exchange led to a lengthy Twitter war that honestly might still be ongoing and caused the Boston and Indianapolis media to go all Hatfields and McCoys.  ENTIRE CITIES were involved in this feud, how can it rank #4?!?

3) Jack Warner vs John Oliver

“The Mittens of Disapproval Are On.”  A British comedian sparring with a corrupt FIFA official doesn’t seem like a natural fit for this list, but it’s a surreal back and forth from the year in sports that is too amazing not to share.  John Oliver’s sports segments are one of the best things going on television and one of his favorite targets has been the ongoing corruption and downfall of FIFA.  Oliver chose Sepp Blatter lackey and king of CONCACAF corruption Jack Warner as his central target, even going as far as buying television time in Warner’s homeland of Trinidad & Tobago to speak to him directly.  That led Warner to respond in this ominous-sounding YouTube video that I still can’t believe is real and Oliver getting the last word.  John Oliver for FIFA President.

2) Jason Whitlock vs Deadspin


One of the biggest sports media stories this year was the unceremonious departure of Jason Whitlock from ESPN and his failure as the leader of his own Bristol affinity site, The Undefeated.  Perhaps a key cog in the downfall of Whitlock at ESPN was the detailed and damning reporting of Deadspin’s Greg Howard.  The Deadspin writer exposed the inner workings of The Undefeated to display a Whitlock-produced chaotic quagmire that was almost too hard to believe.  Whitlock kept mum until he left ESPN for Fox Sports, then unleashing a barrage of accusations and objections towards Howard and Deadspin.  The feud became increasingly personal until things finally went nuclear between the two.

You know what could have prevented all this in the first place?  More Jason Whitlock Inspirational Quotes.

1) Bill Simmons vs ESPN


It’s the defining sports media story of 2015 and maybe the nastiest high-profile divorce we’ve ever seen in the industry.  Bill Simmons and ESPN were headed on a crash course with his contract set to expire this year and tension and suspension (h/t Walt “Clyde” Frazier) poisoning the relationship.  But nobody could have expected ESPN President John Skipper to drop the bombshell that he was making the decision to cut ties with Bill Simmons well before his time at ESPN was due to be up.  Simmons would make no more appearances on ESPN platforms after Skipper’s New York Times stunner and would soon make his way to HBO.

Naturally, Simmons wasn’t going to leave ESPN quietly.  In the time since the very public falling out and his move to HBO, The Sports Guy has made a routine habit of needling his former employer, bashing them at every turn, and even poaching talent away for his own ventures.  And while it didn’t have anything directly to do with the feud itself, ESPN also shocked the sports media world by shutting down Grantland a few month after Simmons’ exit.  We suspected the two sides may part ways some day, but nobody could have ever predicted just how bad the carnage would be.

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