ESPN’s ‘First Take’ Insults Milwaukee, and Milwaukee Fights Back

Milwaukee is not “terrible,” but apparently some ESPN analysts think so.

Last night, ESPN’s “First Take” hosts had some unflattering things to say about Milwaukee.

Former NFL player Damien Woody started the discussion with, “I’m worried about these destinations that you possibly have to go to for the NFL Finals. Do you really want to be in Milwaukee? Is that where you want to be?”

“First Take” host Stephen A. Smith replied with a definitive, “Hell, no.”

Another host, Molly Qerim Rose, added that the NBA Finals this year were “going to be terrible cities,” and she was glad she wouldn’t be traveling there.



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“I don’t believe I’ve ever rooted for the Atlanta Hawks and the Los Angeles Clippers more in my life,” Smith added.

Milwaukee was quick to respond to the insults on Twitter:

Even the Bucks Twitter got its punches in with a quote from Fiserv Forum and Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin offering the critics a personal tour of Milwaukee: 

MilMag’s executive editor Chris Drosner interrupted the writing of this article to interject his own irritation at the comments: “Anyone surprised that ‘First Take’ has regurgitated some uninformed and half-assed but spicy opinions has obviously never watched ‘First Take.’ It’s a turd factory of a show and we should not take it seriously or really even take offense. It’s the TV equivalent of yelling at idiots on the Internet.”

And in the latest, and most dramatic, salvo against “First Take” a petition was launched on to ban Stephen A. Smith and “First Take” from Milwaukee.

“Throughout the years, it has become more and more evident that Stephen A (as well as much of the national sports media community) has an extreme bias against small-market sports teams,” wrote Jake Mahkorn, the petition’s creator. “With the Milwaukee Bucks recent success in knocking off the big market Brooklyn Nets, this unfair bias and criticism has reached new heights – instead of bias against the team, Stephen A chose to mock the City of Milwaukee. … A vote for this petition, is a vote for beautiful summer weather, a vote for small markets, a vote for the Milwaukee Bucks, a vote for great fans, the Deer District, Fiserv Forum, Lake Michigan, and most importantly- great fans and people that want to host passionate, intelligent national and international basketball fans/media for two weeks. If we can get enough support for this petition, we can get this to the Mayor’s office by the times the Finals start. Even better, we can get this thing on the top of Stephen A’s New York City office desk. We can ban this dude from Milwaukee for two weeks while the Bucks win the NBA championship. We can do it.”

The petition, which is directed to Mayor Tom Barrett, currently has 1,504 signatures and counting.

And on Wednesday afternoon, Milwaukee Alderman Khalif J. Rainey jumped in to defend his city with a statement reading, in part: 

“I have a message for the haters of the Milwaukee Bucks: Keep bringing the disrespect so the Bucks can keep turning it into jet fuel that they’ll use to propel the team to its first NBA Championship in 50 years! To the ESPN talking heads who referred to Milwaukee as a ‘terrible city’: We don’t really care about what your opinion is of our city or of any of the other possible NBA Finals cities. … As the Eastern Conference Finals get underway tonight in our fine city, I believe the talkers at ESPN, the Atlanta Hawks, and for that matter the entire world are about to find out that we are READY – Milwaukee is READY – to begin the final push in bringing home a championship.”



Archer is the managing editor at Milwaukee Magazine. Some say he is a great warrior and prophet, a man of boundless sight in a world gone blind, a denizen of truth and goodness, a beacon of hope shining bright in this dark world. Others say he smells like cheese.