One of the most-discussed layoffs at ESPN this summer was that of Max Kellerman. That came a month after reports that Kellerman’s This Just In afternoon show would be cancelled in favor of new and pricey addition Pat McAfee, and it was just the latest case where Kellerman saw his ESPN role suddenly shift, with many of those changes seemingly not of his volition. Now, famed boxing voice Jim Lampley (who worked extensively with Kellerman at HBO while they were in the boxing game) has weighed in, and in strong terms.
Lampley is doing interviews ahead of his text-based live commentary of the Canelo Álvarez-Jermell Charlo fight for PPV.com Saturday. He spoke to Arash Markazi for a piece at The Messenger, and had a lot of interesting things to say about HBO’s boxing run (which ended after 45 years in December 2018, with Lampley leading the signoff), boxing overall, and more. But maybe the most notable things he said were on Kellerman, his status as ESPN’s odd man out, his layoff, the many comments Stephen A. Smith has made about him since, and ESPN overall. Here’s some of what Lampley told Markazi there:
Lampley couldn’t help but think of his good friend Max Kellerman, who was his partner for his last 11 years at HBO and someone he had hoped would be his successor. Lampley observed from afar Kellerman not only being part of ESPN’s mass layoffs in June but also Stephen A. Smith’s bad-mouthing of Kellerman, who has remained silent since his firing.
“I have lost sleep about it,” Lampley said. “I have genuinely lost sleep about what has happened to Max and I can honestly say I don’t understand any of it. I never lost sleep over what happened to me but I have lost sleep about what has happened to Max. It’s not right.”
Even before Kellerman’s exit from the company, Lampley said he decided many years ago that he would never pursue a job at ESPN.
“I very specifically never sought to work at ESPN,” Lampley said. “It’s too big a fishbowl. They have too many different people doing different things in the same vein and along the same lines and it’s going to create competition and jealousy of the kind I would be uncomfortable with. I stayed away from ESPN and everything that has happened there leads me to believe that at least for my constitution and for my personal happiness, I made the right choice.”
It’s certainly notable to see Lampley weigh in this way. Lampley is not just a known sports media figure in his own right, but one who has a lot of history with Kellerman. And his comments on Kellerman are a long way from what we’ve seen from Smith.