Stephen A. Smith revealed live on First Take today that he has tested positive for Covid-19, and has some mild symptoms.
Obviously Smith was working remotely in isolation, but it was still a striking moment given how rarely Smith (or First Take in general) offers moments of genuine humanity while in his on-air role as an embracer of debate.
Here’s Stephen A. Smith opening First Take by announcing he has Covid. Said he tested positive over the weekend and has mild symptoms. pic.twitter.com/Zy1AUIhOye
— Jimmy Traina (@JimmyTraina) December 21, 2021
Obviously we hope Smith makes a full and quick recovery; he notes that he had been vaccinated but had not gotten a booster shot yet as he waited for a minor medical procedure to be completed first. (As Adam Silver noted earlier based on the NBA’s data, and as much of the scientific community has noted as well, booster shots look like they’re critical for increasing immune response to the widespread omicron variant, although those who have received the vaccine are still more likely to have just mild symptoms.)
Shortly after Smith made that revelation, he also revealed why he’d decided to make his appearance on the air today despite the illness: going in on the Brooklyn Nets for their decision to allow Kyrie Irving to play road games.
Quote transcription via the Daily News:
“One of the last people in the world who’s worth it is Kyrie Irving,” he said.
“To make this capitulation, to make this concession, for HIM, who by the way was away from basketball for ten months before coming back for two weeks last year, and then the riots at the U.S. Capitol took place and he was traumatized and needed time away from basketball … Didn’t give back the money mind you, didn’t give back the money, still expected to be paid,” he said. “The fact that they reversed course on this is egregious, and disgusting to be quite honest with you…
“The Brooklyn Nets will rue the day they made this decision.”
It’s both sort of ridiculous and also perfectly on brand for Stephen A. to call in to work for this point, although he also stayed around for the whole episode (he said he’ll probably be out the rest of the week at least.) But clearly he felt very passionately about this particular subject. He made some valid points, too!
Get well soon, Stephen.