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Russell Westbrook’s Wife Fires Back At Stephen A. Smith

“Smith noted the stars Westbrook has played with during his career. Kevin Durant, James Harden twice, Bradley Beal, Paul George and others. Yet the 32-year-old Westbrook is without an NBA Championship and his Wizards sit at more than 10 games below .500 this season.”

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Monday night, Russell Westbrook logged his 16th triple double in just his 38th game with the Washington Wizards. It was No. 162 in his career and Westbrook did it in historic fashion, marking just the third time in league history that a player had at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and 20 assists in a game. 

But Stephen A. Smith was not impressed, saying Westbrook’s remarkable triple-double “means absolutely nothing to me,” Tuesday morning on ESPN’s First Take

Smith noted the stars Westbrook has played with during his career. Kevin Durant, James Harden twice, Bradley Beal, Paul George and others. Yet the 32-year-old Westbrook is without an NBA Championship and his Wizards sit at more than 10 games below .500 this season. 

The criticism didn’t sit well with Westbrook’s wife, Nina, who is much more impressed with her husband’s play than Smith was. Nina Westbrook fired back at Smith on her Instagram story, showing support for her husband’s career on and off the court.

“Imagine if Russell let the words of a @stephenasmith said he did not care about his accomplishments. He’d be crushed,” she posted on Instagram. “He wouldn’t be the talent he is today if he listened to @stephenasmith tell him he wasn’t good enough, or that he could only celebrate his accomplishments if he lived up to what THEY thought he should be.” 

Westbrook is a future hall-of-famer and one of the most entertaining NBA players to watch. But playing on his third team in three years and likely to miss the playoffs, he’s heading toward the Mount Rushmore of NBA players without a ring, despite his ability to fill a stat sheet. 

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Chael Sonnen Agrees To New Deal With ESPN

Sonnen has worked with ESPN as an MMA analyst since 2015.

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Chael Sonnen has a been a big part of ESPN’s dive into MMA over the past decade and he’s not leaving anytime soon. The former UFC title contender has agreed to a multi-year contract extension with ESPN. Sonnen’s role will largely remain the same, with him covering UFC fight weekends and co-hosting Ariel & the Bad Guy on ESPN+.

“To quote the late, great, Glenn Frey ‘So much has happened; but nothing has changed.’ After so many wonderful experiences, I’m glad to say I am STILL with the Worldwide Leader in Sports, ESPN. Just re-signed. Here’s to the future with ESPN,” Sonnen said in a press release.

The former-NCAA All-American wrestler has been with ESPN since 2015 and his role expanded to fight coverage in 2019 once the company obtained the UFC’s full broadcast rights. Prior to ESPN, Sonnen was a UFC analyst for FOX Sports and a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen,” which aired on FX, and “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil: Team Wanderlei vs. Team Sonnen.”

“We are thrilled that Chael will be with us for years to come,” ESPN Vice President of Production Glen Jacobs said. “Even as an analyst, he still has the biggest arm and the greatest charm. Without doubt, Chael remains undefeated and undisputed and helps make ESPN the place to be for UFC fans.”

Sonnen reached two title fights in his UFC career. Once in the Middleweight division against Anderson “Spider” Silva and another in the Light Heavyweight division versus Jon “Bones” Jones. He lost both fights but finished his MMA career with a 30-17-1 record.

“There’s not a lot of ways to participate,” Sonnen said. “You always have to stay humble and very grateful to have a way. Aside from getting in the ring and taking and trading the punches and the kicks. There’s not a lot of ways to get to be a part of it, and ESPN has definitely found a way and allowed me to contribute.”

Fans can catch Sonnen and Ariel Helwani on Ariel & the Bad Guy, airing on ESPN+.

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Kendrick Perkins Signs ESPN Extension

Perkins has worked with ESPN since retiring from the NBA following the 2018-19 season.

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Kendrick Perkins has a new deal. Carry On.

The retired NBA player turned media star signed a multi-year extension to remain with ESPN as an NBA analyst. Perkins has been working with ESPN since retiring from his 14-year NBA career in 2019. He is a frequent guest on “The Jump,” “First Take,” “Get Up,” and “Hoop Streams,” a streaming show airing on social media before marquee NBA games.

“I’m really happy about it, because I really enjoy it, and I don’t think a lot of people expected me to do this when my career ended,” Perkins said to Boston.com. “At first when I started doing TV stuff, people were like, ‘Man, Perk, he’s so country, he talks slow,’ and things of that nature. But now people know who I am now, the individual, and they know what they’re going to get from me.”

Perkins will continue wearing the analyst hat for ESPN and NBC Sports Boston on their Celtics coverage. The former-Celtic has had to juggle his time since retiring two years ago.

“My schedule works out well,” said Perkins, “The majority of the shows I do for ESPN are throughout the day on weekdays. So I’m able to do the Boston job because it’s mostly in the evening time. The only time the Celtics have an afternoon game is really on the weekends, so I’m able to do that too because most of the time I don’t have anything to do [for ESPN]. And if I do have something for ESPN on the weekend, it’s usually early in the morning ‘SportsCenter’ or the late evening ‘SportsCenter,’ so it’s pretty easy to manage the two.”

Fans on Twitter have come to know Perkins by his signature “Carry On” sign-off for all of his tweets. The sports media career of the big fella from Beaumont, Texas is ready to do just that.

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NBC To Either Sell RSNs Or Move Them to Peacock

NBC Sports Philadelphia planned to stream games on Peacock but that idea was shuttered.

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NBCUniversal might not be in it for the long haul with their regional sports networks. Sources told The Wall Street Journal that the company is “exploring” a move of their RSNs to Peacock or selling off the portfolio.

The teams playing on these networks could be the first bidders to pounce as NBC tries to figure out their next move.

Streaming was in the company’s plans starting this spring with NBC Sports Philadelphia scheduled to test out the strategy. They scrapped those plans before baseball season over fears that it would alter NBCUniversal’s company-wide streaming strategy.

The media giant has already confirmed it is shuttering its national NBC Sports Network at the end of this year. The shutdown is the latest move showing their hesitance around the future of RSNs. The avenue has been a money machine for a long time because of the high fees cable providers agreed to with networks. As more people cut the cord and splice their media purchasing, those fees get harder to justify.

According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, regional sports networks collectively had 145.8 million subscribers last year, down 23% from 190.2 million in 2014.

A potential buyer other than the teams playing on the networks is Sinclair Broadcast Group. They own the Bally Sports family of networks after signing a licensing deal with the gaming company this year. Sinclair plans on rolling out streaming-only subscriptions for 19 of their networks beginning in 2022.

The plan NBCUniversal was implementing involved airing games on both the RSNs and their entertainment streaming service Peacock. Phillies fans could’ve been able to watch games on Peacock and regular TV, now that plan is off the table. Sources tell The Wall Street Journal that NBC Sports Philadelphia may lose profitability as early as next year. The battle for media attention continues in a rapidly changing landscape.

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