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ESPN's Stephen A. Smith Becomes Highest Paid Sportscaster

Stephen A. Smith has been one one of the most recognized sports anchor for longer than a decade now. All of his hard, and honest work coming to fruition in a new payday.

The New York Post reported that ESPN offered Stephen A. Smith a nearly $8 million a year contract over the next five years.

This deal makes Smith the highest paid sportscaster at ESPN.  The sports channel reportedly gave Smith some of that new salary upfront in an effort to bring him to the negotiating table, despite having one year remaining on his current deal.

The 51-year-old has been with the network since 2005, making waves with his involvement on First Take, The Stephen A. Smith Show, ESPN’s NBA coverage and more. According to the Post, Smith will remain on First Take each morning and expand his role on SportsCenter — including hosting a special Wednesday night edition ahead of their NBA slate that night throughout the season. His radio show, however, is reportedly set to end next year.

ESPN is also exploring ways to involve Smith with its subscription service “ESPN+, according to the report.

According to the New York Post, Smith will continue hosting First Take while adding more appointment viewing opportunities on SportsCenter. ESPN already announced that Smith will host his own edition of the program at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays before NBA games. The network is also reportedly interested in finding a way to utilize Smith on its subscription platform, ESPN+.

Smith joined ESPN in 2005, working as a weekday radio host while writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

 

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LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during a game against the Brooklyn Nets at the Staples Center on March 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, CA.
Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

LeBron James Demands Justice For Breonna Taylor During Press Conference

At his first post-game press conference ahead of the relaunch of the NBA season, LeBron James used the media spotlight to demand justice for Breonna Taylor.

“First of all, I want to continue to shed light on justice for Breonna Taylor and to her family and everything that’s going on with that situation,” the Lakers star told the media on Thursday (July 23).

“We want the cops arrested who committed that crime. In the state of Kentucky what’s going on down there, I know a lot of people are feeling the same,” said James. “Us as the NBA, and [as] players, me as one of the leaders of this league, I want her family to know, and I want the state of Kentucky to know, that we feel for her and we want justice. That’s what it’s all about. What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong.”

LeBron James opened his press conference speaking about Breonna Taylor. LeBron: “We want the cops arrested that committed that crime.” pic.twitter.com/UjGUJRZ5rG

— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) July 24, 2020

LeBron James on Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and speaking out on racial inequality pic.twitter.com/hJFwePA61B

— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) July 24, 2020

Taylor, 26, was shot to death in March after Louisville Police Officers Myles Cosgrove, Brett Hankison and Jonathan Mattingly raided her home on a no-knock warrant.

James also paid tribute to Taylor by writing her name on the sneakers that he wore during Thursday's preseason game.

Justice 4 Breonna Taylor ✍️ @KingJames pic.twitter.com/LoXNLMD1Kr

— B/R Kicks (@brkicks) July 23, 2020

Kentucky AG  Daniel Cameron has fended off criticism for failing to bring charges against the officers more than 100 days after the fatal shooting.

The case remains under investigation.

 

 

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Alex Burstow/Getty Images

NFL Will Reportedly Play Black National Anthem When Season Kicks Off

The NFL is reportedly adding “Lift Every Voice and Sing” to its playlist. The Black national anthem will be played (and possibly performed) during week 1 of the upcoming season, ESPN reported on Thursday (July 2).

The song will reportedly play ahead of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” during pregame festivities.

The move, which comes four years after Colin Kaepernick began his on-the-field protest against police brutality, reflects the latest shift in the league’s ever-changing stance on the Black Lives Matter movement. After previously banning players from protesting during the National Anthem, and quietly settling collusion lawsuits brought on by Kaepernick and Eric Reid, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted last month that the league was wrong for essentially silencing players and ignoring issues of police brutality, racial injustice, and systematic oppression.

“We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black people, Goodell said in a video statement. “We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter.”

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans are expected to kick off the 2020-2021 NFL season on Sept. 10.

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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Bubba Wallace Noose Incident Was Not A Hate Crime, FBI Says

An FBI investigation into a noose found in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s garage door at the Talladega Superspeedway had been their since last October. After a “thorough review of the facts and evidence,” the bureau determined that Wallace, the only Black full-time NASCAR driver, was not the victim of a hate crime.

“Fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway.  After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed,” U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent Johnnie Sharp Jr. said in a joint statement on Tuesday (June 23).

Although the noose was found in Garage 4, “nobody could have known” that Wallace would be assigned that garage number.

NASCAR released a similar statement confirming that “photographic evidence” concluded that the garage pull “roped fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since last fall.”

“We appreciate the FBI's quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba,” NASCAR's statement continued. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.” The incident came two weeks after NASCAR banned the Confederate Flag.

pic.twitter.com/NCYiNBSuFn

— NASCAR (@NASCAR) June 23, 2020

After the noose was found Wallace stated in part that the “despicable act of racism and hatred leave me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society.” Later that day, Wallace was joined by all 39 NASCAR drivers and their crews as they pushed his car down the pit road in a show of solidarity.

The 26-year-old Alabama native has said that the murder of Ahmaud Arbery inspired him to become more vocal  about the Black Lives Matter Movement.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

✊🏾

A post shared by bubbawallace (@bubbawallace) on Jun 7, 2020 at 1:58pm PDT

Despite a small number of Black drivers to join NASCAR the sport remains notoriously segregated but recent event have brought on more Black fans. “Supporting and thanking the pre-existing fans, and encouraging the new ones,” Wallace captioned an Instagram photo of him greeting fans. “For all of those new to the sport, we welcome you with open arms.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Supporting and thanking the pre-existing fans, and encouraging the new ones. For all of those new to the sport, we welcome you with open arms.

A post shared by bubbawallace (@bubbawallace) on Jun 23, 2020 at 8:42am PDT

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