Phil Mushnick's Andre the Giant hot take led the way this week.

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes! This time around, we’re examining the hottest sports media takes from March 30-April 5.

5. Barrett Sallee says Tim Tebow criticism “is so silly,” “no player has been so unnecessarily criticized in our generation”: 30-year-old Mets’ part-time non-prospect and sometime ESPN college football analyst Tim Tebow has done a great job of failing upward through the minors, getting promoted from low-A to high-A last year despite a .222 batting average and starting this season at double-A despite a 1-for-18 (with 11 strikeouts!) line in Grapefruit League play. He did hit a homer in his first pitch at AA (something he also did in his first low-A at-bat last year before going on to a forgettable season), which prompted some discussion and some reminders that he is actually far worse than your average minor-leaguer and yet promoted despite that (couldn’t have anything to do with the marketing opportunities, could it?). But according to CBS college football analyst Barrett Sallee, that criticism is “so silly,” and “no player has been so unnecessarily criticized in our generation”:

First, Tebow’s status as a human, good or bad, has zero to do with discussion of his on-field abilities. And “still working on his game” might have some merit, but remember that Tebow’s going to be 31 this year; that window to actually becoming a decent minor leaguer is fast closing, if it was ever open. (It may not have been.) Tebow’s “baseball career” is a giant promotional stunt, one that sees him regularly promoted over much more deserving players, and pointing that out is far from unnecessary criticism.

Rating: ??

4. Skip Bayless brings further players into the LeBron/Jordan debate, simultaneously argues that LeBron isn’t the best player in today’s NBA and has a “superhighway” to a ring: FS1’s Bayless has largely made a career out of ranting about LeBron James and insisting that he’ll never reach Michael Jordan’s level, but he took it to some interesting places this week. We’ve usually seen just a never-ending debate about who’s the best of all time between LeBron and Jordan (a difficult question to definitively answer given the different eras, positions, cases for each and so on, which is why this debate keeps going), but Bayless threw in some wrinkles this week, first suggesting that he’d take Tim Duncan over LeBron:

There’s a reason no one else is making that comparison. Duncan was a great player, one of the best of his era, and seems sure to be a Hall of Famer, but his career averages (19 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists per game) are nowhere near LeBron’s (27.2/7.4/7.2), and neither are his awards (two-time MVP to four-time MVP). And judging an individual player by the Finals record of the teams he played for is a terrible idea (and shouldn’t it be noted that the one loss there for Duncan came against LeBron?). But this is a way for Bayless to further muddy the waters of the LeBron/Jordan debate, suggesting that it’s so clear LeBron isn’t in Jordan’s league that he should be compared to other players instead. And he did some more of that this week, and showed off some inconsistencies too. Here’s his take on Kevin Durant as “the best player on the planet”:

But Skippy, you said LeBron has a “superhighway” to a ring thanks to injuries?

So, LeBron has a “superhighway” to a ring. But he’s not the best player on the planet. That would be Durant. Or maybe James Harden?

Or maybe Russell Westbrook?

Of course, Harden might have a better MVP case than LeBron this season, and that’s perfectly fair to discuss. But what’s absurd is how Bayless’ statements stack up over time; he’s simultaneously trying to argue that it’s easy for LeBron because other players are hurt, so a championship for him means nothing, and yet that other healthy players are better than LeBron. And all this winds up doing is confusing the issue.

Rating: ???

3. Ice Cube suggests Kobe was better than LeBron: Speaking of  muddying the waters, one of Bayless’ Undisputed guests did a nice job of that this week, with Ice Cube throwing out not just that LeBron is inferior to Jordan, but that he’s not at Kobe Bryant’s level:

For a man who goes by Ice Cube, these are both pretty hot takes. The Finals record thing is one of the stupidest debating points out there (which is why Bayless keeps bringing it up); it’s somehow better to lose in an earlier round of the playoffs than to lose in the Finals? And bringing Kobe into this conversation is something rarely seen outside of diehard Lakers’ fans (which Cube is, so fair enough, but that’s hardly a rational take). Kobe averaged 25.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists for his career, less than LeBron in all three categories, and was far less efficient (he shot 44.7 percent from the field versus LeBron’s 50.4). There’s a reason we haven’t seen a “Kobe or LeBron” debate outside of this take, and it was not a good day for Cube’s basketball opinions.

Rating: ???

2. Stephen A. Smith rants about analytics, the Raptors, and shouts “period” a lot: ESPN’s First Take is often known for its incoherent shouting, and boy, did Smith deliver on that front this week, coming out with this rant about analytics (including ESPN’s own analytics department!) and the Toronto Raptors, and yelling “Period!” six times for some reason like that would enhance his point:

As the wise Michael Palin once said:

Rating: ????

1. Phil Mushnick is mad…about the Andre the Giant documentary? New York Post resident curmudgeon Mushnick is a regular in these pages, and he has a slew of regularly bad takes on certain subjects, such as games that end after his bedtime, foreign NCAA players, touchdown celebrations and more. But it’s always the most fun when out of nowhere, Mushnick drops a hot take you wouldn’t necessarily see coming. He did just that this week, using a footnote in a long column ranting about late start times (“MLB made its choice to chase money over serving young fans“; won’t someone please think of the children, but not the ones watching at home on TV!) to go after HBO’s upcoming Andre the Giant documentary for some reason:

That HBO teamed with the WWE to produce a documentary about Andre the Giant tells us that even the ugly stuff will be heard and seen after it has been vetted and sanitized by Vince McMahon’s office. It’s a pity HBO would team with the WWE for anything.

What in the world is Mushnick even talking about here? First off, he presumably hasn’t seen the documentary yet (it debuts April 10; some advance reviews have been done, but if Mushnick did watch an advance copy, you think he’d have more to say than just these two sentences), so he seems to be objecting just to its existence, but that’s been out there for years. How does he know it will include “ugly stuff,” and what’s that even supposed to mean?

And he’s simultaneously complaining that it will have “ugly stuff” and that the WWE’s involvement will “sanitize” it? And objecting to the HBO/WWE partnership in general, for unclear reasons? It’s impressive that Mushnick’s managed to be even more incomprehensible and deluded than usual and crank up a five-alarm hot take in just two sentences. Very efficient.

Rating: ?????

Hot Take Standings:

Stephen A. Smith – 184
Skip Bayless – 147
Phil Mushnick – 125
Colin Cowherd – 49
Shannon Sharpe – 35
Rob Parker – 29
Doug Gottlieb – 22
JT The Brick – 20
Charles Barkley – 19
Ray Lewis – 16
Albert Breer – 16
Don Cherry – 15
Bill Plaschke – 14
Chris Broussard – 13
Dan Dakich – 13
Rick Morrissey – 13
Michael DeCourcy – 11
Bob Brookover – 10
Jeremy Roenick – 10
Berry Tramel – 10
Kristine Leahy – 10
Ross Tucker – 9
Keith Olbermann – 9
Ryen Russillo – 9
Garth Crooks – 9
C.J. Nitkowski – 9
Dan Shaughnessy – 8
Frank Isola – 8
Michael Rapaport – 8
Tony Massarotti – 8
Jason McIntyre – 8
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Cris Carter – 7
Pat Forde – 7
Danny Kanell – 7
Pat Leonard – 6
Mike Francesa – 6
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
John Steigerwald – 5
Josh Peter – 5
Darren Rovell – 5
Alexi Lalas  – 5
Greg Gabriel  – 5
Steve Simmons – 5
John Moody  – 5
Marni Soupcoff – 5
Ryan Rishaug – 5
Kurtis Larson  – 5
Rod Watson  – 5
Dan Wolken – 5
Britt McHenry – 5
Chuck Modiano – 5
Joel Klatt – 5
Steve Buffery – 5
Joe Morgan – 5
Michael Felger – 5
Howard Eskin – 5
Nancy Armour – 5
Richard Justice – 5
John Middlekauff – 5
Ameer Hasan Loggins – 5
Jesse Watters – 5
John McGrath – 5
Mike Sielski – 5
Gordon Monson – 5
Scott Fowler – 5
Mike Bianchi – 5
Terry Frei – 5
David Jones – 5
Sabrina Parr – 5
Abbey Mastracco – 5
Terry Cushman – 5
Rob Rossi – 5
Rick Bozich – 5
Michael O’Doherty – 5
Simon Briggs – 5
Dan Wetzel – 5
Mike Parry – 5
Bob Ryan – 5
Robert Reed – 5
Pete Dougherty – 5
Dan Le Batard – 5
Marcus Hayes – 5
Kyle Turley – 5
Mike Ditka – 5
Erril Laborde – 5
Lowell Cohn – 5
Rosie DiManno – 5
Greg Witter – 4
Myron Medcalf  – 4
Bill Polian – 4
MJ Franklin – 4
Alex Reimer – 4
Joan Vennochi – 4
Graham Couch – 4
Matt Yglesias – 4
Andy Benoit – 4
Bill Livingston – 4
Michael Irvin – 4
Shawn Windsor – 4
Brock Huard – 4
Byron Tau – 4
Maggie Gray – 4
Michael Powell – 4
Mark Spector – 4
Chad Forbes – 4
Gary Myers – 4
Mark Schlereth – 4
Andy Gray – 4
David Fleming – 4
The Sporting News – 4
Jeff Pearlman – 4
Tony Grossi – 4
FanSided – 4
Kirk Herbstreit – 4
Tony Kornheiser – 4
Mike Felger – 4
USA Today op-eds – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Ice Cube – 3
Cathal Kelly – 3
Justin Peters – 3
Elise Finch – 3
Kevin Skiver  – 3
David Bahnsen – 3
Harold Reynolds – 3
Kevin Reynolds – 3
Mike Sheahan – 3
Bob Ford – 3
Steve Greenberg – 3
Matt Burke – 3
Malcolm Gladwell – 3
Mike Milbury – 3
Mac Engel – 3
Nick Kypreos – 3
Jason Smith – 3
Caron Butler – 3
Don Brennan – 3
Robert Tychkowski – 3
Mike Johnston – 3
Jeff Mans – 3
Joe Browne – 3
Mike Harrington – 3
Greg Mitchell – 3
Barrett Sallee – 2
Craig Calcaterra – 2
Max Kellerman – 2
Gareth Wheeler – 2
John Cornyn – 2
Tony Dungy – 2
Bruce Jenkins – 2
Chris Wesseling – 2
Seth Greenberg – 2
Doug Smith – 2
Newsweek – 2
Teddy Cutler – 2
Will Cain – 2
Bill Cowher – 2
Paul Finebaum – 2
Charley Casserly – 2
Amin Elhassan – 2
Jim Henneman – 2
Mitch Lawrence – 2
Nick Wright – 2
Domonique Foxworth – 2
Gary Parrish – 2
Michael Farber – 2
Andy Furman – 2
Donovan McNabb – 2
Seth Davis – 2
Jon Heyman – 2
Jason La Canfora – 2
Booger McFarland – 2
Joe Schad – 2
Cork Gaines – 2

Thanks for reading! Tune in next week for more This Week In Hot Takes. As always, you can send submissions to me via e-mail or on Twitter.

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.