First Take's Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman appear in NBA Live '18.

Media personalities have been included in sports video games for a long while, from announcers to radio personalities (such as Tony Bruno in Madden 2005-07) to reporters (Adam Schefter in recent Madden versions), and now it seems that EA Sports is ready to let you feel what it would be like to have hot-take artists embrace debate about your career. Their new NBA Live ’18 title features ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman with First Take segments about imaginary players in career mode. Here’s a clip of what that looks like:

And here’s Smith confirming it:

Yes, that’s Smith and Kellerman debating an imaginary player. And if anything, it goes to show Smith’s one skill of being emphatic on command, as he can put as much passion into an argument about an imaginary player as he can about a real First Take segment. This also definitely adds some realism to Career Mode, allowing players to feel what it’s like to have the likes of Stephen A. debating their performance on a national stage. (And is First Take getting in here a blow against Undisputed? Players can hear Stephen A., but they’ll have to imagine Skip Bayless’ commentary themselves.) And it’s fantastic that Stephen A.’s commentary on an imaginary event includes him patting himself on the back with “I want to applaud their intellect for listening to the wisdom that I espoused.”

Of course, this isn’t quite the full Stephen A. commentary experience. As Uproxx’s Robby Kalland notes, there’s a certain something missing:

Sports debate shows are unavoidable at this point for fans of midday sports television, so this is an accurate representation of what would happen to your player in his career. My biggest hope is that at some point in the mode, your player gets to beef with Stephen A. and he comes out and threatens to drop some dirt on you, like he did recently with LeBron James and previously with Kevin Durant. That would truly be an authentic NBA experience.

Having First Take in NBA Live is probably a nice little bit of promotion for ESPN, and it goes with how heavily they’re trying to promote the show overall. It also helps with their quest to sell Smith and Kellerman as figures whose opinions matter. But the big question is if this actually provides any value for gamers. Were we really missing the chance to have Smith and Kellerman debate our imaginary characters? (Although, honestly, their debates about imaginary things may be more interesting than their real debates. And imagining them debating things like Crab Rangoon or the Holocaust is more enjoyable still.) At any rate, video games are now a hot take zone. Enter with caution.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.