There isn’t much that surprises me in the sports world today. We’ve seen some of everything, good, bad, and ugly. One thing I continue to ponder is how many players (mostly NBA) keep stumbling into Skip Bayless’ troll trap he sets on Undisputed and Twitter. Trae Young and Draymond Green are the latest NBA stars to go back and forth with Skip.
Young is a highly talented player who recently found himself in a Twitter beef with Bayless over disparaging comments ranging from claims of poor play to making fun of Trae’s height. Nothing is off limits with Bayless as he digs at players because he knows he’ll get a reaction most times.
Green has also had his issues with Bayless lately in this “old media vs. new media” battle for supremacy. The two have gone at each other on Twitter, podcast platforms, and Undisputed for Bayless. While it is entertaining, responding to Skip’s repeated jabs only pushes forward his agenda. Bayless has been trolling for a couple of decades now. He probably doesn’t even believe half the crap that falls out of his mouth at this point.
But these players keep wandering into his traps, feeding into his schtick. That’s all it is anyway. This has been Bayless’ act on TV going back to the days of Cold Pizza, then First Take after that. It’s nothing new. Just ask Chris Bosh and Jalen Rose. Although it made for compelling television, that entire ordeal probably went too far.
The tension between Bayless and Bosh got so thick that the Heat star joined Skip on First Take in 2011 to confront him about the “Bosh Spice” nickname. Bayless held his ground and even called him Bosh Spice to his face. Ultimately, I’m not sure what that meeting of the minds accomplished, but it was good for ratings. In the end, that’s all Skip cares about, and it’s the main reason for his trolling of the new generation of players.
Skip’s hubris eventually led him into a First Take debate for the ages with Rose. Bayless was destroyed at every turn by Rose, who turned the tables on Skip, mocking his high school statistics. Not long after Rose, NFL player Richard Sherman went on the show and thoroughly obliterated Bayless. The bully got a taste of his own medicine and, for once, did not have a comeback. Well, at least twice, you could say.
Of course, neither instance caused Skip to reflect and change the error of his ways. He immediately continued trolling players following each incident where he was shut down on a national stage. Talk about giving no F***s. You’d think by now, players would have learned to just allow Bayless to talk himself into a stupor.
The only players regularly berated by Bayless that don’t feel the need to fire back are Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Every day on FS1, at some point, it’s guaranteed that Skip and Shannon Sharpe will debate over James/Lakers and Curry/Warriors. This was especially true this season as the Warriors returned to prominence and the Lakers stunk up the joint.
No matter how well Curry or James played, Bayless had energy for ‘em, and they never flinched. LeBron put out a tweet before the 2021-22 season about everyone talking about him and his teammates, how old they were, and how it wasn’t going to work with Russell Westbrook, and he just wanted folks to keep the same “narrative energy.” It wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular, but I’m sure Skip came to mind as James typed that tweet.
Then Steph just seems not to pay much attention to any of it, although he’s commented on what was said about the Warriors during a brief hiatus from the mountain top. Again, he didn’t say any names, but surely Bayless is one of the pundits for which that message was meant. Plus, he’s got Draymond, who does enough talking for the entire team, especially with his podcast.
Kevin Durant may be the easiest player to reel into a verbal altercation via Twitter. He’s never shy about blasting anyone, but I’m sure he takes extra joy in setting his sights on Bayless. Skip’s claimed for years that he is Durant’s “biggest fan,” but that’s never mattered to KD. He’s not a fan of Skip, no matter how many times he debates in his favor on Undisputed.
With social media and how reactionary many players are today, Bayless will be on tv debating and trolling on social media until he can no longer speak. With guys like Green, Young, and KD more than willing to engage Skip at every turn, his spot is secure in the debate show landscape. If players truly want to do away with Skip Bayless, they’ve got to take a page from the playbook of LeBron and Steph. Don’t say his name. Don’t give him the energy because he feeds off it.