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The Athletic Still Losing Money After New York Times Acquisition

“Front Office Sports reports The Athletic lost $6.8 million in February and March.”

Jordan Bondurant

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The Athletic was acquired by The New York Times earlier this year, and while the Times saw a massive uptick in subscriptions, first quarter profits took a pretty big hit.

Front Office Sports reports The Athletic lost $6.8 million in February and March. The site lost $55 million on $65 million in revenue last year, according to the report.

The acquisition also affected operating profits for the Times in Q1. It resulted in a 10.5% decrease to $60.9 million. The company plans to introduce advertising to The Athletic later this year, which will be new to the sports site. That along with offering a subscription bundle that also includes The New York Times are part of an effort to make The Athletic profitable.

The Times did pick up 1.1 million subscriptions from The Athletic as part of the acquisition.

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Dan Le Batard: Shams Charania Appearing on ‘The Pat McAfee Show’ is a ‘F**k You’ to Adrian Wojnarowski from Pat McAfee

“No one is allowed on ESPN basketball stuff until Shams on McAfee that Woj isn’t good with.”

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Shams Charania
Courtesy: The Rally on X

Earlier in the week, there was considerable speculation surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers pursuit of UConn Huskies men’s basketball head coach Dan Hurley to fill the team’s head coaching vacancy. Hurley ultimately chose to stay at the University of Connecticut, a decision that elicited both surprise and relief in the basketball world, but his candidacy was relatively unknown before a report from ESPN senior basketball insider Adrian Wojnarowski. The report of Hurley being the frontrunner for the job came after Shams Charania, senior NBA insider at The Athletic, reported that NBA on ESPN analyst JJ Redick was the frontrunner instead.

Charania, who also works for Stadium and FanDuel TV outside of his reporting at The Athletic, appeared on ESPN Wednesday afternoon within The Pat McAfee Show where he outlined the Lakers coaching search and Hurley’s decision. Dan Le Batard, hosting an abridged version of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz due to severe weather in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, spoke about how he recently read a Substack by Ethan Strauss that mentioned the rivalry between Wojnarowski and Charania.

“It’s King Kong and Godzilla of the information business, and Shams learned it from his mentor [Wojnarowski], who is the most competitive person I’ve ever met in sports media, who has relationships with the executives, with the old guard in basketball – the people who have controlled all of the power in basketball,” Le Batard said. “And his protégé, who is 30 years old and much different than him, traffics in the information from labor, from the players, and so there has been a fight at the top of the food chain.”

Le Batard, who used to host on radio and television for ESPN, explained to co-host Jon “Stugotz” Weiner that Wojnarowski is one of the best sportswriters he had ever seen. As the world of disseminating information has changed though, Le Batard stated that Wojnarowski does not write in that manner anymore and is instead divulging “cubes of information” as fast as he can because of money, power and interest in the craft. Although Charania has been a guest on The Pat McAfee Show before since it began broadcasting the first two hours of the program on ESPN last year, Le Batard felt that this particular appearance carried extra merit.

“To see Shams on McAfee is such a ‘F**k you’ from McAfee to Woj and the established infrastructure,” Le Batard said. “No one is allowed on ESPN basketball stuff until Shams on McAfee that Woj isn’t good with. To see his enemy in the middle of the workday on McAfee is hugely interesting to me, and then to see them this far apart on what the Lakers were doing and fighting at the top of the information food chain to produce a story around Hurley that I don’t think any of us but Woj saw coming – like that was not something that people were talking about before Woj reported it after Shams had reported JJ Redick is the frontrunner.”

“I’m with you,” Weiner concurred. “No one saw this coming; the Laker job coming. It is interesting with McAfee because he is doing that just to piss of Woj, and believe me, it pisses of Woj.”

Wojnarowski and Charania previously worked together at Yahoo Sports on “The Vertical” where they broke news of several transactions within the NBA over the years. While Charania was in his junior year of college, Wojnarowski had called him “the best young basketball reporter on the planet.” A rivalry between the two reporters began to develop through the years and became noticeable to fans when Wojnarowski joined ESPN in 2017 and Charania moved to The Athletic and Stadium in the next year.

The aforementioned Strauss detailed the relationship between Wojnarowski and Charania in a Substack article in October 2021, in which he states that they are “highly motivated to beat one another in a battle for speed, conducted over Twitter, a medium built for it.” After Hurley rejected the Lakers’ reported offer, Charania stated on FanDuel TV that Hurley was not the No. 1 candidate for the job from the start, which was viewed by some people as a disputation of Wojnarowski’s report.

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Stephen A. Smith: ‘Shannon Sharpe is on Another Level’ on ESPN ‘First Take’

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Shannon Sharpe
Courtesy: Elizabeth Weinberg, GQ

Earlier in the week, ESPN announced that it signed Shannon Sharpe to a multiyear contract extension in which he will continue his appearances on First Take and also contribute to other ESPN programming. The announcement was made on Tuesday’s edition of First Take, during which Sharpe expressed his gratitude for his colleagues at ESPN and Stephen A. Smith for believing in him after his exit from Undisputed on FS1. Smith and First Take host Molly Qerim conveyed their appreciation for Sharpe on the air and congratulated him on the new contract before beginning the first debate of the program.

On the latest edition of his independent podcast, The Stephen A. Smith Show, Smith took time to recognize Sharpe and exhibit plaudits for his contribution to First Take. Since the departure of co-host Max Kellerman from the morning television show in September 2021, the program has utilized a rotation of panelists that debate Smith on a variety of topics throughout the show. The program recently attained its 22nd consecutive month of year-over-year growth and garnered record-setting viewership in the month of May.

“You know, none of us win alone. We win together,” Smith said. “I don’t give a damn who you see in front of the camera or who you see in front of the microphone. There’s producers and writers and everybody else in-between behind the scenes that make things happen for me that I always owe a debt of gratitude towards as well, and the same is applicable to [Shannon Sharpe]. But clearly with me being the face of First Take and what have you, I’m never shy about spreading the wealth and sharing it because it’s well deserved.”

Smith mentioned several of the commentators who appear across episodes of First Take, including Ryan Clark, Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo, Mina Kimes, Jay Williams and Andraya Carter, along with show host Molly Qerim. Throughout the year, the program features additional members of ESPN as well to provide their insights and expertise pertaining to a variety of different topics within the world of sports.

“…[T]here’s so many people that do such great work for the show, but Shannon Sharpe is on another level,” Smith explained. “What he’s done for the show, what he’s done for me, I can’t say enough about.”

Sharpe began appearing on ESPN’s First Take last August while also signing a partnership with The Volume to bring his podcast, Club Shay Shay, to the digital media outlet. During his time with ESPN and First Take, he has frequently appeared on Monday and Tuesday editions of the show, along with several special on-site broadcasts. Within the deal with The Volume, the company implemented Sharpe’s media venture, Shay Shay Media in content and formulating new programming, such as the Nightcap podcast featuring Sharpe and co-hosts Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and Gilbert Arenas.

“I don’t deserve a whole bunch of props for bringing Shannon Sharpe on board,” Smith said. “Shannon Sharpe came on board because Shannon Sharpe was an asset that I knew would work tremendously well for First Take. His gifts, his skillset, his hard work, his dedication and all of the stuff that came with it is what earned that opportunity.”

Smith articulated that Sharpe has never appeared on the program with any shortage of energy, passion, knowledge or commitment. Earlier in the segment, he addressed people who questioned why Smith mentioned that Sharpe was pushed out of FS1, replying by asking if it had occurred to them that he wanted him to discuss the topic. Sharpe worked with Skip Bayless from the start of Undisputed in 2016 until his departure last June, and the program has since relaunched featuring a rotation of commentators including Keyshawn Johnson, Michael Irvin and Richard Sherman.

Smith delineated that Sharpe has been an exemplary colleague throughout his time on First Take and has had to overcome several obstacles to reach this point, some of which include a speech impediment, being a Black man and having issues with public speaking. A recent profile of Sharpe by The Hollywood Reporter mentioned difficulties that Sharpe has had to combat throughout his life and how he has found ways to thrive in sports media following a successful professional football career. Smith read the article and asked the audience to think about what he had to go through before divulging what it is that Sharpe wants to receive from those in the business.

“I’ve told everybody that has asked me about my relationship with Shannon Sharpe, ‘Respect the man,’” Smith said. “All he cares about is that you respect him. Don’t disrespect him. Respect him for what he does. That’s it.”

Smith said that Sharpe knows he has respect for him, attributing it to part of the reason why their friendship has grown. Additionally, he communicated that Sharpe has never bothered anyone and is not asking people for friendship or to be a family member, but rather to simply demonstrate respect towards him. The segment then concluded with Smith offering his congratulations for Sharpe receiving the contract extension and continuing to work with him on the show.

“He deserves every penny and every nugget of investment that ESPN has agreed to place in him, so I just wanted to say that and I’m just happy for him and happy he’s going to be a part of the team for years to come,” Smith said. “He deserves it – he really, really does. My man, Club Shay Shay in the house. Congrats big boy, well deserved.”

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Sports Media Remembers Jerry West, NBA Champion and Executive, Who Passed Away at the Age of 86

“Jerry West, the personification of basketball excellence and a friend to all who knew him, passed away peacefully this morning at the age of 86. His wife, Karen, was by his side.”

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Jerry West
Courtesy: Tim Nwachukwu, Getty Images

Jerry West, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and executive who won a collective eight championships, passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 86, the LA Clippers announced. West, whose silhouette encompasses part of the National Basketball Association logo, was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers and played in nine NBA Finals.

“Jerry West, the personification of basketball excellence and a friend to all who knew him, passed away peacefully this morning at the age of 86,” the LA Clippers organization said in a statement. “His wife, Karen, was by his side.”

Throughout his 14-year playing career, West was named an All-Star every season and is the only player to be named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals as a member of the losing team. West had been serving as a consultant for the LA Clippers since 2017 and previously worked in the front offices of the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for a third time as a contributor later this year.

“Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years,” Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner, said in a statement. “He distinguished himself not only as an NBA champion and an All-Star in all 14 of his playing seasons, but also as a consummate competitor who embraced the biggest moments.  He was the league’s first Finals MVP and made rising to the occasion his signature quality, earning him the nickname ‘Mr. Clutch’.

“Jerry’s four decades with the Lakers also included a successful stint as a head coach and a remarkable run in the front office that cemented his reputation as one of the greatest executives in sports history.  He helped build eight championship teams during his tenure in the NBA – a legacy of achievement that mirrors his on-court excellence.  And he will be enshrined this October into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor, becoming the first person ever inducted as both a player and a contributor.

“I valued my friendship with Jerry and the knowledge he shared with me over many years about basketball and life.  On behalf of the NBA, we send our deepest condolences to Jerry’s wife, Karen, his family and his many friends in the NBA community.”

Members of the sports media industry reacted to the news throughout the day on Wednesday, reflecting on West’s life and impact in basketball and sports as a whole:

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