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Stephen A. Smith Reacts To Max Kellerman's Departure

Stephen A. Smith looking on at the NBA Celebrity Game

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - FEBRUARY 14: Head coach Stephen A. Smith of Team Stephen A. looks on before the 2020 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game Presented By Ruffles at Wintrust Arena on February 14, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The Max Kellerman era on ESPN's First Take has come to an end.

During his final appearance on the show, Kellerman's longtime co-host Stephen A. Smith, who was unable to be on set today, called in to bid his broadcast broadcast partner farewell.

"I wanted to call in and thank my man Max for the five years," Smith said. "...We've been No. 1 every single year and you had an awful lot to do with that. I wanted to thank you for your contributions to the show. I wanted to call to wish you the best moving forward."

ESPN officially announced Kellerman's expected departure from First Take last week -- and recent reports have indicated that Smith played a role in that decision. While the two hosts got along just fine personally, Smith reportedly wanted Kellerman off the program for a more heated "debate challenger," per media insider Andrew Marchand.

That being said, the longtimeTV/radio personality will still hold a significant role with the network.

Kellerman is set to replace Zubin Mehenti on morning radio alongside former NFL superstar Keyshawn Johnson and basketball analyst Jay Williams. He will also retain his duties as host of The Max Kellerman Show on ESPN radio.

Initial reports of Kellerman's departure from First Take also hinted at a potential afternoon TV show of his own, but details of that possibility have yet to be released.

First Take will continue to air with Smith as the focal point. Kellerman's replacement will most likely come in the form of rotating guest co-hosts, per reports.

First airing in 2007, First Take has been a consistent performer with ESPN for 14 years.