ESPN's First Take is the lasting example of the network's "embrace debate" era, but there usually doesn't seem to be any real animosity between its personalities. This morning featured a brush-up between Stephen A. Smith and moderator Molly Qerim though, and it was very awkward.
During a discussion about possibilities for the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 8 in tomorrow's NBA Draft, the topic of Michael Porter Jr. arose. Naturally, the discussion turned to his various injury concerns.
Porter Jr. missed all but three games with back issues during his one year at Missouri. He went down in the regular season opener against Iowa State, just two minutes into the year.
He had surgery to repair two discs in his back, and returned for the team's SEC Tournament game against Georgia, but was not particularly effective. He also played in Mizzou's first round NCAA Tournament loss to Florida State.
Smith brought up the back issue, and Qerim interjected with a note on the reported hip injury that caused him to cancel a workout with teams in Chicago last week. Smith didn't appreciate her cutting him off, and she returned by reminding him of her role as moderator.
Video of the awkward back-and-forth between Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim on First Take today.
The two spoke over each other a bunch, but here is most of what was said in that contentious back-and-forth:
Smith: "This man supposedly had back surgery. Now, unless he was never hurt..."
Qerim: "And hip surgery, Stephen A."
Smith: "Well listen, reportedly. A lot of times guys, when they don't play in college or whatever... who knows in this day and age..."
Qerim: "But reportedly back and hip."
Smith: "Reportedly...allow me to finish Molly, thank you very much, I'm getting to that."
Qerim: "Sorry, just trying to moderate and add details, facts to the story. And I'm trying to do that as well, I wasn't trying to interrupt, just trying to interject with information..."
Smith: "Well, I appreciate you interrupting but let me speak."
Qerim: "...or interjecting, because that's my job as the moderator of the show, but go ahead."
Smith: "Yes, the hip injury, the back injury, all of those things happened. We get it."
Obviously this show naturally creates some awkward moments, but they're usually about the sports topics themselves, and not over who should be talking at a given moment.