2017 saw a number of prominent ESPN personalities lose their jobs. One of the most controversial layoffs was that of NBA insider Marc Stein.
His departure coincided with the high-profile addition of fellow NBA news-breaker Adrian Wojnarowski. ESPN poached Woj from Yahoo! Sports, where he launched The Vertical, and cemented his reputation as perhaps the top NBA insider, at least in terms of scoops.
Stein’s layoff was among those that brought the most criticism, of the hundreds of people that ESPN let go. Another high-profile former ESPNer, Bill Simmons, called the move “reprehensible.”
Simmons isn’t alone. Today, during a segment on, First Take, Stephen A. Smith stumped for ESPN to bring back Marc Stein.
Smith and co-host Max Kellerman were discussing Stein’s New York Times report that Paul George could remain in Oklahoma City, rather than jump to the Lakers as many assume.
Smith used the opportunity to make his remarks about the former ESPN reporter. From Awful Announcing:
“The only thing I’d like to add as an aside, I am incredibly happy to have Adrian Wojnarowski with us, incredible insider, does a phenomenal job, but there’s room for one more. I would love to see my man Marc Stein back. I like seeing him at The New York Times, he did a great, great job for us, and I wish he was still here. I just wanted to say that.”
Stein got the message, and responded via Twitter.
Just saw him at the Finals and he knows I miss him, too … https://t.co/H9VtPSjTRr
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 13, 2018
Kellerman made sure to add in that “anyone who’s got Woj is winning,” something that Smith agreed with. It was very interesting to see Smith make those comments at all though. While he often makes headlines, he rarely says anything that can be construed as critical of the company.