Ryan Smith, a Philadelphia native who grew up in Mount Airy rooting for the Phillies, will be sticking around ESPN after signing a new multiyear deal, the Inquirer has learned.
As part of his new contract, Smith will move from a fill-in host to the full-time cohost of the 7 a.m. edition of SportsCenter alongside David Lloyd.
Smith, who has worked for ESPN and ABC in a variety of roles since 2013, will also continue his role as a legal analyst and reporter, and will carry on as a fill-in host on Outside the Lines and Get Up.
As a kid, Smith would score games at Veterans Stadium and “worshiped” Harry Kalas. Smith decided to attend Syracuse University after the legendary Phillies broadcaster suggested it to his mom when he was about 10 years old.
After graduating from Syracuse, Smith earned a law degree from Columbia Law School and served as a lawyer for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He eventually settled on practicing sports and entertainment law in New York City, and was on the partner track before pursuing his dream of becoming a sports broadcaster. In addition to his work for ESPN, Smith regularly appears on shows like 20/20 and Good Morning America.
“When something of a legal nature happens, my phone starts ringing. They all want Ryan,” David Sarosi, a coordinating producer at ESPN, told the Inquirer a few years back. “I’ve had to play gatekeeper, and sort-of tell people, ‘I know he’s great at giving you legal analysis, but we’ve got a show to do’”
ESPN compares Joel Embiid to Michael Jordan
They said it, not us.
During their broadcast of Friday night’s Sixers loss to the Dallas Mavericks, ESPN compared moves made by Joel Embiid to a couple of NBA Hall of Famers you might have heard of — Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
“Look at the moves he’s pretty much been able to duplicate there,” ESPN play-by-play announcer Mark Jones said as the network showed clips comparing the three players to fill time during a 46-minute delay caused by a rim and backboard issue.
It might seem like sacrilege to compare Embiid to two of the greatest players in NBA history, but some of the big man’s moves do show more than a passing resemblance to similar pull-ups and shots off the dribble from Jordan and Bryant.
“If you want to be great, you’ve got to emulate greatness. And that’s what Joel Embiid does,” ESPN NBA analyst Richard Jefferson said. “The difference is Embiid is seven feet, 280 pounds doing that … Not every seven footer can just go do a Kobe Bryant move or an MJ move and have it translate to the game. He can, and that’s what makes him different.”
Meanwhile, Embiid is a serious MVP candidate as the league nears the all-star break, averaging 29.3 points per game this season (and over 33 points per game over his last 23 games). He’s also scored at least 40 points in an NBA-leading seven games this season, most recently on Sunday in a 119-108 win against the Chicago Bulls.
So where did ESPN get the idea to compare Embiid to Jordan and Bryant? Maybe from Embiid himself, who brought up both and more after dropping 50 points against the Orlando Magic last month.
“At times, whenever I want, I’m able to be Shaq, and whenever I want, I’m also able to be Dirk or Kobe or MJ or any guards, really,” Embiid said. “Shooting off the dribble or pull-ups or ballhandling, just a combination of everything offensively.”
A sign of things to come from FuboTV?
Thinking about signing up for FuboTV? Hope you’re OK paying for three months up front.
The so-called “skinny bundle” with a focus on live sports (including the Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers via NBC Sports Philadelphia) is the only service in which new customers must subscribe to quarterly plans that start at $194.96, which works out to $64.99 a month.
“We have temporarily made our channel packages available to new subscribers as quarterly plans,” a FuboTV spokesperson said on Twitter in response to a question from media reporter Phillip Swann, better know as the TV Answer Man.
A large part of the appeal of streaming television services like YouTubeTV or DirecTV Stream is unlike cable television packages, you’re not locked into a long-term contract. That also means those services are more susceptible to churn as customers hunt for the best deal or promotion, or simply cancel between seasons.
FuboTV is describing the new pricing plan as a “temporary test,” and says it won’t impact current subscribers — other than act as encouragement not to cancel the service. FuboTV doesn’t offer TNT or TBS, meaning new subscribers will miss a number of NHL and NBA games, as well as matchups during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament next month.
Cord-cutting fans looking for the cheapest option can also find NBC Sports Philadelphia on YouTubeTV (which also has TBS and TNT) for $64.99 a month. The network is also available on Hulu + Live TV, which charges $69.99 a month.
SiriusXM golf analyst and former PGA Tour winner Mark Lye was fired Sunday, one day after saying on air he would rather grab a gun and shoot himself than watch “ladies basketball.”
Kudos to CBS for turning to a drone to capture this anxiety-inducing cliff shot by Jordan Spieth at Pebble Beach on Saturday. “It was by far the most nerve-racking shot I’ve ever hit in my life, like by far,” Spieth was heard telling his caddie.
We’re going to see a lot of Magic Johnson in the coming months. In addition to the HBO scripted series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (which debuts in March and led to a feud between Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay), Apple TV+ will stream the long-awaited documentary series They Call Me Magic beginning April 22.
Happy trails to Tony Corrente, who is retiring after 27 seasons as an NFL official. Corrente, 70, was the longest-tenured official in the league, but garnered widespread criticism last season for throwing a flag after leaning in and intentionally hitting Chicago Bears defender Cassius Marsh.