ESPN still helps set the conversation in American sports.

Despite its declining subscriber count and left-wing political turn, ESPN is still the go-to sports channel in America.

And an ESPN star’s bombshell on-air announcement just changed everything.

First Take co-host Stephen A. Smith is the highest paid personality at ESPN and the face of the network.

Recently, Smith announced to the audience that he missed the show after testing positive for the coronavirus despite the fact that he took two shots of the Pfizer vaccine.

“I’ve tested positive for COVID-19,” Smith stated. “I have the coronavirus. I learned this over the weekend. I got tested three times last week prior to the weekend. I had tested negative before I had departed for LA, I tested negative when I arrived in LA, I tested negative when I got back from LA.”

Without citing any evidence, Smith claimed he would be doing much worse without the vaccine despite the fact that Smith is not in a high-risk group for an adverse outcome.

Smith used his own COVID diagnosis to slam the Brooklyn Nets for allowing Kyrie Irving to return to the team for road games despite the fact that Irving is unvaccinated.

“I think it’s a horrible move. I think it’s a disgraceful move,” Smith fumed. “I think that Nets ownership is incredibly disappointing, and I think that the league should intervene.”

Irving is ineligible to play home games in Brooklyn because of New York’s vaccine passport system, but he can play on the road.

However, the Nets initially banned Irving from all team activities.

But with the Nets looking to win home court advantage throughout the playoffs, the Nets invited Irving back into the fold.

That was too much for vaccine fanatic Smith – who despite the fact that the vaccine did not protect him from contracting COVID – demanded that the NBA impose a vaccine mandate on all its players.

“I’m open to the league invoking its ‘best interest of the game’ clause and mandating that everybody be vaccinated in some capacity,” Smith concluded.

Smith’s rant about a vaccine mandate comes at an odd time, as despite the fact that the NBA is 96 percent vaccinated, the league is considering changing the rules to allow teams to sign replacement players due to so many players testing positive for the coronavirus during this omicron wave.

Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any new developments in this ongoing story.