Stephen A Smith on Doug Gottlieb and First Take Credit: The Stephen A. Smith Show

This week, Fox Sports Radio host Doug Gottlieb had quite the reaction to a Stephen A. Smith report about new head coach JJ Redick and the Los Angeles Lakers. Gottlieb called Smith a “race-baiter” after Smith shared that Black coaches around the NBA felt the timing of Redick doing a podcast with superstar LeBron James put former head coach Darvin Ham in a bad spot.

But at the same time Gottlieb brought out the big guns against Smith, he also claimed he was once a finalist to replace Skip Bayless as Smith’s co-host and sparring partner on First Take.

In a response to Gottlieb on Friday’s episode of The Stephen A. Smith Show, Smith denied Gottlieb’s claim completely, saying the new Wisconsin-Green Bay head men’s basketball coach was “lying through his teeth” about the 2016 job opening.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am the executive producer of First Take. I have been on the show since 2012. And from the moment Skip Bayless departed, I have been the face of First Take. And I am telling you Doug Gottlieb was never a candidate for the job,” Smith said. “He’s lying through his teeth. That is not true, unless unbeknownst to me, someone called him and made him think he was a candidate, because he certainly wasn’t one in my eyes. Because it certainly wasn’t going to happen in my eyes. There was not a No. 2 candidate named Doug Gottlieb. That is false.”

Ultimately, Max Kellerman took Bayless’ spot for about five years. In the fall of 2021, Smith became the sole host of the show alongside anchor Molly Qerim.

Smith said he was unsure where Gottlieb got so off base about his candidacy.

“I can’t speak to who spoke to him. I sincerely doubt anybody did, because I can assure you it wasn’t going down like that, because it had to go through me,” Smith said. “Because he wasn’t a consideration, because he wasn’t a draw. Period.”

Gottlieb worked at ESPN from 2002-12, meaning he was not employed by the network when Bayless’ position came open. He said he had a fine working relationship with Smith while working for the worldwide leader.

Probably not anymore.

[The Stephen A. Smith Show on YouTube]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.