If I had to choose a favorite line from Drew Magary's excellent GQ profile of ESPN takemaster Stephen A. Smith from late last year, I'd probably go with Smith saying how frustrated he is by the nature of the debates on his ubiquitous daily talk show First Take. Max Kellerman, his sparring partner on the show, has the kind of analytical approach that seems, on paper and often on screen, to be the perfect foil for Smith's stunningly impassioned raves, but Smith doesn't always see it that way. “I'm not satisfied with where we are,” he told Magary. “I am the kind of person who debates you, and I don't give a damn about how you feel. If you don't agree with Max, he tries to convince you as if you don't comprehend what he's saying. Sometimes that works for the show. Sometimes it doesn't. There are days that I feel that we are absolutely phenomenal at debating each other. There are other days where I don't feel that way. And the days that I don't feel that way, I'm not happy.”
Watching Stephen A. Smith in conversation Max Kellerman, Spike Lee, an armchair, or any person in a Dallas Cowboys T-shirt, then, is not like watching the vast majority of other humans in conversation. To Smith, it is both art and science — an attempt to draw strong opinions from the person across from him in order to, eventually, put forward an even stronger opinion himself, until eventually everyone is shouting about J.R. Smith but nobody's sure how it started.
Today's special guest on First Take was FADER cover star Megan Thee Stallion, who's preparing to release her new album Suga on Friday despite the best efforts of her label. The interview was pretty slow for the first few minutes, with host Molly Qerim Rose asking a Women In Music question, Meg citing UGK as her earliest influence, and Kellerman somehow getting in a Roxanne Shante reference despite not being prompted to do so. This was, however, just a prelude to sports talk. Megan Thee Stallion is a Houston Rockets fan, and Stephen A. Smith wants some takes.
He gets them, too. Watch the video at the top of the page to see Megan talk about her hopes for this year's Rockets ("They better go all the way"), James Harden ("Win or lose, we still riding for you at the end of the day"), and coach Mike D'Antoni ("Who?").
Suga is out on Friday.