Shannon Sharpe wonders if relationship status should be requirement to be face of NBA

With LeBron James entering his 21st year as an NBA superstar, Tuesday’s episode of ESPN’s “First Take” centered on the topic of discussion about the next face of the league.

And panelist Shannon Sharpe brought an interesting baseline to the group on what it takes to be the next face of the NBA.

“How’s your relationship status?” he asked.

“magic [Johnson] and [Larry] Mr. Byrd was married. LeBron was dating Savannah. How do you see that? Because when we look at presidential candidates, we look at them and we want them to be safe. We want them to be a fundamental part. ”

The rest of the “First Take” panel couldn’t believe Sharpe had brought this up.

“I’m not going to lie, I don’t know what the hell I’m hearing,” said Stephen A. Smith.

Shannon Sharpe communicates with her team during the first half against Team Stephen A. during the Raffles NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 16, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Getty Images

But host Molly Kerim interjected.

“I know you’re saying things like, ‘First Lady of Basketball,’” she said.

“They’ll say Stephen Curry or Ayesha Curry, and we know them. Like, role models. I know what you’re saying.”

Former NBA sniper-turned-analyst JJ Redick takes Smith and Sharpe’s podcast outside of their daily spot on ESPN’s morning debate show and says it’s going in a “really weird direction.” It pointed out.

But Redick explained why he feels marital/relationship status is not important to the face of the league.

“Let’s stop acting like some face of the league was perfect off the court,” he said. “I don’t think that necessarily bodes well, but you’re obviously using Steph and LeBron in the current sense. By and large, they’re scandal-free. But like past members of the league have been perfect. Stop behaving.”

LeBron James stands during the second quarter against the Eastern Conference All-Stars during the 2024 NBA All-Star Game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on February 18, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Getty Images
James and his wife, Savannah James, watch as Sierra Canyon High School plays the Ohio Scholastic Play-by-Play Classic against St. Vincent St. Louis. Mary High School at Nationwide Arena on December 14, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. Getty Images

Reddick pointed to Memphis Grizzlies point guard Jay Morant as a prime example of the league’s shaky future.

One of the best young players in the game was twice seen firing a firearm on social media, leading to a suspension and ridicule from the NBA world.

Morant is still Memphis’ franchise player, but his status within the league has changed.

And when it comes to relationship status, Shaquille O’Neal, who was once one of the most dominant and influential players in the game, has spoken out about his bad decisions off the court that affected the status of his relationship with ex-wife Shawnee. Nelson has been very vocal.

Players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic are expected to dethrone James when he hangs up his uniform for the final time.

At his pace, it might not happen for a few more seasons, but the torch will always be passed.



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