On Tuesday morning’s First Take, former NBA player and current ESPN basketball analyst Jalen Rose gave us the sports media moment of the year when he destroyed Skip Bayless on his own show. It was an epic dismantling that Rose delivered with his trademark cool, and it made Bayless so uncomfortable that he had to go out and mentally prepare himself before he could even talk about it.
So on Wednesday, one day after Rose fired the verbal shots heard around the sports world, Bayless decided to use his massive ESPN First Take platform to defend himself. Except he couldn’t do it alone, mano-a-mano. Who was his backup? Screamin’ A. Smith, of course.
Here is 20 minutes of your life that you’ll never get back, but is oddly compelling anyway:
Despite the fact that he was going one-on-two, Rose still destroyed both guys because he had truth and reality on his side. That always helps. We don’t want to give this situation too much time because it really doesn’t deserve it, but a few points:
1. It’s perfectly fine that Bayless and Smith have made careers out of trolling and antagonizing athletes. Sports media is a tough industry to crack, and a lot more people would be willing to their sell their souls to break in than would probably care to admit.
2. There is a reason that Bayless is currently one of ESPN’s most popular personalities. Whatever it is that gets people to watch a particular show, whatever that specific trait is, he has it. You can’t take that away from him. He’s as successful as he is because there is a demand for what he puts out.
3. At the same time, it would be cool if he acknowledged that he’s a professional contrarian and full of BS. If what he said and did on TV was just for the sake of TV – cool. But in interviews that Bayless has done outside of the show (one that we can think of, specifically), he’s come off just as insufferable. A little self-awareness would go a long way here.
4. This perfectly illustrated what First Take is about. Everything from the LeBron James/Russell Westbrook-hating to the Tim Tebow-loving that Bayless has become renowned for isn’t based on actual love or hatred of anyone involved, it’s purely done to boost Bayless’ popularity. This isn’t a show about big sports topics getting dissected from every possible angle. This is a show about Bayless saying whatever he wants, whenever he wants, mostly on the topic of sports.
5. Smith is the worst type of useless. At least Bayless serves some sort of purpose in this discussion, Smith is just there to weakly defend the guy who revived his dying career. Pathetic. Go away, dude.
All in all, this whole mess (starting with Rose’s original comments and ending with this article) has obviously been a huge waste of time. That being said, it’s sort of cool that someone (read: Rose) had the guts to say to Bayless’ face what the rest of us have been saying in the blogosphere for a long time.