LOS ANGELES — “Oh. My. Lord. … Watching Duke?! I’m sensing UNLV back in the day.”
It’s 4:30 a.m. and Stephen A. Smith is fired up in his downtown hotel room. Scott Van Pelt opens every episode of his midnight edition of SportsCenter by saying, “I’m not tired yet.” The same can be said about Stephen A. at just about any hour of the day.
Smith is on a conference call with First Take producers, Max Kellerman, and Molly Qerim Rose to figure out the rundown for that morning’s show. While Stephen A. knows “you can’t go wrong with the NFL” in the A-block, he’s most passionate about Zion Williamson and the Duke Blue Devils destroying Kentucky in their season opener the night before. Smith will talk about Duke on three different shows before lunch, never once getting bored by his full day that often involves repeating his opinions on multiple occasions.
A day in Smith’s life is never dull and always a bit hectic. After doing the production meeting from his hotel room — which only happens when they’re on the west coast — he arrives at ESPN’s L.A. studio a little before 6:00 a.m. PT to get makeup done, at which point he strolls over to the First Take studio to cut a promo for that day’s show. Shortly after that, he does a Get Up hit with Jalen Rose, appalled at Rose’s proclamation that Zion Williamson wouldn’t have cracked the starting lineup on the Fab Five at Michigan.