ESPN has pissed a lot of people off recently, even those who work at other networks.
Kenny Smith recently blasted ESPN for its mass layoffs which have taken place in recent weeks. For those unaware, ESPN has been firing big name talent over the past month or so in an attempt to save money. At least, that’s the reasoning they provided.
Amidst these layoffs, household names such Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, Jalen Rose, and Mike Greenberg have been let go from the network. While Van Gundy and Jackson will be replaced by Doc Rivers and Doris Burke to sit alongside Mike Breen, Greenberg’s role of NBA Finals host has been handed over to Malika Andrews.
Along with other big names leaving ESPN as well, it’s safe to say that fans are unhappy.
Well, it’s not just them.
While talking to Front Office Sports, Kenny Smith discussed the rounds of layoffs at ESPN and basically said they make absolutely no sense. “I’m not really sure how they’re [ESPN] doing it,” Smith said. “Certain guys are getting let go, and then you hire someone else for more money. I have no idea why they’re doing it, but stability is what brings success.”
Despite only subtly hinting at it, Smith brings up an excellent point. Though ESPN claims the cuts’ intention is to save money, they have been doling out massive contracts to new talent. Most notably, Pat McAfee signed a 5-year contract worth $85 million. Though we don’t know for certain, reports suggest nobody fired had a contract anywhere near that amount.
Smith continued to speak about his main point of “stability.” As a co-host of Inside the NBA, Smith has experience working with the same group of people on the same network for over a decade. “That’s family, we’re not even a show anymore. It is what Monday Night Football was when I was growing up with Howard Cosell and those guys. We’ve become that for basketball.”
Smith dedicates the long-standing panel’s tenure to his show’s success and says that ESPN is doing the complete opposite of what it should be. “People can count on certain things, I think that’s what makes us the best show on television. We have stability, we’re entertaining. But more importantly, we have stability. We have guys that you really can count on that know the game,” Smith said.
Only time will tell how ESPN’s layoffs will work out for them. Maybe they know something we don’t. Or, possibly, this will blow up in their face. I guess it all depends on Pat McAfee.