Skip Bayless claims he never lost a debate on live TV, but regrets the one time it appeared like he lost a debate to Mark Cuban on First Take.
On the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show podcast, the Undisputed host reflected on the one regret of his TV career. “It concerns the one day I faced Mark Cuban on live TV, a day I have tried again and again to rectify,” Bayless said.
That regretful show segment occurred nearly 11 years ago, when First Take’s producers booked Cuban as a guest the day after LeBron James and the Miami Heat won the 2012 NBA Finals.
“The morning after LeBron’s first ring, live from Miami, a show that I hoped would be epic! And would you believe, I was not told until our production meeting that morning…that a guest had been booked without my knowledge,” Bayless recalled. “Mark Cuban had been booked. I was not happy!”
Bayless was still in his first year as the show’s lead personality, after it transitioned away from the Cold Pizza format, and didn’t yet have executive producer status or final say on guests.
“I fought back, saying, ‘Look, Mark Cuban is a slippery egomaniac who could not be trusted.’ I predicted correctly he would try to hijack our show that morning, which he pretty much did. But the producers considered Mark Cuban an A-List booking. I’ll give you that,” Bayless continued. “And they gently pushed back against me and said, ‘Hey, we should just go ahead and have him on for just one long segment, maybe a third of the way into the show.’ And because he had been booked…I gave in.”
According to Bayless, Cuban would have been a great guest any other day, but not the day after LeBron’s first championship. Bayless told his First Take co-host, Stephen A. Smith, that he didn’t want Cuban to go off on any Dallas tangents during the show. One year earlier, the Mavericks beat LeBron’s Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, giving Cuban potential fodder to go off on a Dallas tangent during First Take.
“I don’t remember exactly how the conversation with Cuban unfolded. I only remember that I tried to say as little as possible. I tried to not engage with Mark Cuban,” Bayless said, recalling that Cuban eventually touted his Mavericks’ ability to defend LeBron during the 2011 NBA Finals. “I didn’t want to argue too hard with Cuban because that was last year…crushing LeBron on that day? On his first ring day? Just seemed to me, so unfair and so out of bounds and so off point.”
And of course, there is no better person to police the fair treatment of LeBron James than his foremost critic, Skip Bayless. For those, like Bayless, who don’t remember exactly how the conversation with Cuban unfolded, here is a highlight video of the 2012 First Take segment.
“I was told after the show by our producers, that the internet was saying ‘Mark Cuban kicked my ass, that Mark Cuban made me look foolish.’ The internet wants to see me lose, wants to see me exposed as a know-nothing fraud,” Bayless claimed. “But the truth was, the foolishness was coming from Mark Cuban’s mouth. I just wasn’t fighting back the way I have at every other time in my career, except that one.”
Cuban did not just derail First Take by touting his Mavericks beating LeBron during the 2011 NBA Finals, he mocked Bayless and the sports debate show format. But to his credit, Bayless desperately wants to come back for more in hopes of rectifying the more than decade-old segment that still haunts him.
“I would like nothing more than to face Mark Cuban on live TV once more,” Bayless insists.