stephen a. smith
Tori Lynn Schneider | Tallahassee Democrat/USA TODAY NETWORK

Stephen A. Smith and Chris “Mad Dog” Russo were made for each other.

ESPN’s “First Take” lost some of its shine when Skip Bayless left ESPN for FOX and the Max Kellerman pairing never seemed to click. The Stephen A. SmithMad Dog pairing is firing on all cylinders after three shows.

After debating about who’s at fault for the MLB lockout and discussing a possible extension for Kyler Murray, the pair debated Stephen Curry‘s status as a potential top-10 player.

It went as well as anyone could have hoped.

This might be my New York bias talking — I grew up listening to WFAN every day and night on the radio — but Mad Dog is perfect for “First Take.” It’s a lot of shouting, granted, but it’s tough to change the channel. The chemistry between Smith and Mad Dog bursts through the television screen.


Russo is used to working alongside big personalities. “Mike and the Mad Dog” is, was, and always will be the best sports radio show of all time. The back and forth between Mad Dog and Mike Francesa was the “je ne sais quoi” that made that show special.

Comparing radio and television feels a bit like comparing apples and oranges, but the parallels are there between Francesa and Smith. Mad Dog is at his best when he has a sparring partner and the same can be said for Smith. We all know it’s true with Francesa because he never fell asleep during a show when Mad Dog was with him.

“First Take” on Wednesdays is becoming must-see TV in the blink of an eye. Whether or not this pairing becomes a more regular occurrence remains to be seen.

The Curry top-10 debate was only one moment in a handful of great moments from Wednesday’s show. Smith beat Dog in the MLB lockout debate.

Dog called out LeBron James for jumping ship for the Lakers.

Dog also took Larry Bird over LeBron James.

Knicks, Nets, NY/NJ college hoops, and sports betting reporter. Mostly basketball, but a little bit of everything when it comes to NY sports. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.