Sports media insider Andrew Marchand has reported that Stephen A. Smith is seeking to form a "Big Three" to lead ESPN's in-studio NBA show. If reports are true, Smith would team up with veteran journalist Michael Wilbon and five-time NBA champion Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Three-time NBA champion Draymond Green has also been in ESPN's sights as a recurring fourth member of the team, joining when he can during the NBA season.
Reports of a "Big Three" being put together come in the wake of Maria Taylor's exit from the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports. During the most recent NBA season, Taylor hosted ESPN's in-studio NBA show with Jalen Rose, Jay Williams and Adrian Wojnarowski. With Taylor stepping away from the network and joining NBC Sports, Rachel Nichols would appear to be the logical choice to host the show. However, Nichols was recently connected to a scandal in which she insinuated Taylor was offered major opportunities at ESPN because of her race and not her talent. In the wake of these comments, Nichols was snatched from her role as a sideline reporter during the 2021 NBA Finals and replaced by Malika Andrews. This week, Nichols' was also asked to step back from NBA coverage and The Jump was canceled. Now, ESPN is working to put together a new team to cover the NBA.
Smith will not only be seeing changes regarding NBA coverage. His primary role at ESPN, hosting First Take, will also be changing in the near future. Smith's co-host, Max Kellerman, is stepping away from the show in September to host Max On Boxing, The Max Kellerman Show and a new morning radio show with Jay Williams and Keyshawn Johnson. Adding on, ESPN has indicated that he will be developing his own TV show in the near future as well.
In Kellerman's absence, Smith will reportedly debate a variety of ESPN personalities throughout the week. Super Bowl champion Michael Irvin is also expected to join ESPN to debate Smith about the weekend's NFL developments each and every Monday.