Stephen A. Smith, JJ Redick and Shannon Sharpe on First Take Photo credit: ESPN

The next face of the NBA in a post-LeBron James world will need MVPs, championships, and according to Shannon Sharpe, a stable marital status.

Tuesday morning on First Take, Stephen A. Smith, JJ Redick and Shannon Sharpe were tasked with debating which players are best suited to carry the torch for the NBA when LeBron ultimately decides to retire. During the segment, Sharpe’s criteria for the nod had Smith and Redick scratching their heads.

“What about relationship status?” Sharpe asked. “Magic and Bird was married. LeBron was in a relationship with Savannah. How do we look at that? Because when we look at presidential candidates, we look at candidates, we want them to be secure, we want them to be foundational pieces. You know what I’m saying?”

“I’m not gonna lie, I don’t know what the hell you’re asking,” Smith said while Redick appeared equally confused.

The confusion prompted First Take host Molly Qerim to defend Sharpe by referring to the “First Lady of basketball,” explaining that a player might be more marketable when the optics of their home life are positive.

“I did not expect this conversation to take this route,” Redick said before acknowledging this is sort of par for the course when it comes to conversations featuring Smith and Sharpe. “I’ve been listening to your podcasts, I see all the clips on social media. You guys go into some really strange directions.”

Some of those directions include boobs, butts, farts, politics and Pokémon. Talking about NBA players benefiting from a stable marital status might pale in comparison to the things Smith and Sharpe discuss on their respective podcasts, but it was still a surprising spin on this First Take segment. While Sharpe referred to LeBron and Steph Curry being in long-term relationships while avoiding any off-court scandals, Redick was quick to point out that hasn’t always been the case for past faces of the NBA.

“Let’s not act like some of the faces of the league have been perfect with their off-court behavior,” Redick said. “I don’t necessarily think that’s a precursor. You’re obviously using Steph and LeBron in the present tense and by and large those guys are scandal free, right? Let’s not act like some of the past faces of the league have been perfect.”

Redick did not offer specific examples, but Kobe Bryant’s name certainly comes to mind. In 2003, Bryant was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old hotel employee in Colorado. The case was dropped after the accuser did not testify at the trial, while a separate lawsuit against Bryant was settled by both sides privately. Despite the accusations and arrest, Bryant was able to rebuild his reputation as one of the league’s foremost faces during his playing career.

Sharpe’s take and emphasis on a stable marital status for professional athletes is not totally unique, however. Colin Cowherd made similar claims, previously stating he likes professional athletes who are “married to strong women,” believing Aaron Rodgers’ lack of a wife is one of the quarterback’s downfalls.

[First Take]

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