On Friday, Stephen A. Smith used his First Take platform on ESPN to defend himself and all of his sports media brethren from Kevin Durant’s strong criticism.

Thursday afternoon, Durant called out Smith’s ridiculous “Michael Jordan changed the NBA for the worse” hot take and proceeded to take a blowtorch to the entire sports media industry:

But Friday morning, Smith assured Durant that he’s not going anywhere.

“The Stephen A. Smith’s of the world are not going anywhere, I’m here now,” Smith fired back. “There will be hundreds, if not thousands, that will follow…you wanna control the narrative all the damn time. You’re not doing it. You don’t get to get rid of us. We’re here and we’re gonna be here. GET OVER IT!”

“I get paid to talk about you, I don’t get paid to talk to you,” Smith continued. “I don’t ever have to speak to any of y’all again in life and I still get to do my job, look at what I see and comment about it…When you’ve had projects you’ve wanted to push forward, you called me to participate. It wasn’t the other way around.”

Smith seemed to be making a “You need me more than I need you” type of argument, which is ridiculous. Athletes and media have a mutually beneficial relationship. Sports media relies on professional athletes to have something to discuss and the players mutually benefit because it’s nice to be talked about.

But who benefits from who more? Thanks to the creation of social media, athletes would be able to survive and stay relevant without any assistance from Stephen A. Smith or Skip Bayless. What would Smith and Bayless yell about without athletes? Politics? Yikes.

“Please be clear, we don’t exchange Christmas gifts, we don’t have Thanksgiving dinner together,” Smith later added. “I could give less than a damn if those who don’t wanna talk to me, never ever talk to me in life. I assure you, I will not lose one second of sleep over it and I’m gonna still come on air and do my job.”

Durant might not need traditional sports media, but the fans do. As much as Durant, Draymond Green, Patrick Beverley and others have attempted to declare themselves the “new media,” there remains a need for more traditional journalists. Athletes having podcasts or joining debate shows is great for giving fans a new brand of access, but it’s nearly impossible for active players to remain unbiased when discussing their own sport.

“Let me brag about us for a second,” Smith said as he began to sound a lot like Mike Francesa. “We’ve been number one for ten years straight. We’re number one right now. And as far as I’m concerned, we’re gonna stay number one so long as I’m here.”


About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to bcontes@thecomeback.com