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

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With LeBron James in Year 21 as an NBA superstar, a debate topic about the next face of the league took center stage during ESPN’s “First Take” on Tuesday. 

And panelist Shannon Sharpe brought interesting criteria to the group about what it might take to be the next face of the NBA.

“What about relationship status?” he questioned. “Magic [Johnson] and [Larry] Bird was married. LeBron was in a relationship with Savannah. How do we look at it? Because when we look at presidential candidates, we look at candidates, we want them to be secure. We want them to be foundational pieces.”

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) looks to drive around Houston Rockets forward Cam Whitmore during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 29, 2024, in Houston.  (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

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

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“I’m not gonna lie, I don’t know what the hell you’re asking,” Stephen A. Smith said. 

But host Molly Qerim interjected.

“I know what you’re saying like the ‘First Lady of Basketball,’” she said. “They would say Steph Curry and Ayesha Curry, and we know them. The example, the role models. I get what you’re saying.”

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Former NBA sharpshooter-turned-analyst JJ Redick brought up Smith’s and Sharpe’s podcasts outside of their daily spot on the ESPN debate morning show, where they go off in “really strange directions.”

But Redick explained why he feels marital/relationship status doesn’t matter for the face of the league. 

Stephen and Ayesha Curry

Stephen Curry and Ayesha Curry attend the world premiere of Universal Pictures’ “NOPE” at TCL Chinese Theatre on July 18, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (JC Olivera/Getty Images)

“Let’s not act like some of the faces of the league have been perfect with their off-court behavior,” he said. “I don’t necessarily think that’s a precursor, and you’re obviously using Steph and LeBron in sort of the present sense. By and large, those guys are scandal-free. But let’s not act like the past faces of the league have been perfect.”

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To Redick’s point, a prime example of a future face of the league turning sour was Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant. One of the best young players in the game was seen on two occasions flashing a firearm on social media, leading to a suspension and ridicule from the NBA world. 

Morant is still the franchise player in Memphis, but his status around the league shifted. 

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

Shannon Sharpe at the NFL Honors in 2019

Shannon Sharpe poses for photos on the red carpet at the NFL Honors on February 2, 2019 at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA.  (Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, and more are expected to take the throne from James when he finally hangs up his jersey for the final time. That might not be coming for a few more seasons at the rate he’s going, but the torch is always passed. 

Source: Fox News

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