On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN were joined by journalist and TV personality Stephen A. Smith.

Smith was raised in Queens, New York, where he learned all about the hustle. He eventually gravitated toward basketball and even earned a scholarship to play at Winston-Salem State University in the late 1980s. There, he went from playing the sport to covering it for the school newspaper and the rest was history. Upon graduating and throughout the next few decades, Smith went on to snag roles as a writer for The Philadelphia Inquirer and ESPN, where he climbed the ranks as a columnist and host.

In regard to the latter platform, Smith is most known for his show “First Take,” which has reigned as one of the top programs on the network for nearly a decade. Whether he’s on television, radio or picking up his pen, the sports media veteran has built a revered reputation. With such a successful career, it was only right that he launched his own online platform, “The Stephen A. Smith Show.”

Long story short, he’s never not cooking, and he talked about the ins and outs of being a premiere sports reporter in this discussion. Below are nine takeaways from the conversation and the full episode can be watched here.

1. On keeping up with storylines

How does Smith keep up with the bevy of storylines daily? He revealed that the key to awareness is in his setup. “If you see my basement, I got a movie theater, I got two television screens here, and then if you go to the side, that’s really my man cave. I got a bar, a TV over the bar, and I got six TVs, three on top of the other, that I can tune into one, or I can tune into six different games at a time,” he said. Having an always-on approach helps, too. “When I’m driving, I’m listening to the sports channel. When I’m home, I’m watching the sports channel. When I am reading, I wake up and the first thing that I do, in terms of my work when I get up in the morning, I go to ESPN.com, Yahoo Sports,” he added. “You literally are supposed to wake up every day thinking about what’s percolating, and that’s how I approach every single day.”

2. On his connection to Hip Hop

Smith, when speaking about those who talk down on him, commented on how connected he is to all industries, especially music. “I’m a product of the Hip Hop generation. Growing up in Hollis, Queens, Jam Master Jay was best friends with my late brother; God rest his soul. I grew up with Run-DMC. 50 Cent was down the block. LL Cool J grew up five minutes from me on Farmers Boulevard,” he noted before calling the aforementioned people his brothers. “I’m incredibly grateful, and humble and thankful that I got relationships with such iconic figures. You can’t have relationships with cats like that if you don’t live by a code, and you don’t stand for s**t.”

3. On creating “The Stephen A. Smith Show”

Smith owns and operates his own newscast on YouTube where nearly 300 episodes have been created thus far. Though he had to pay a chunk of change to get the show off of the ground, it was a worthwhile investment that came with intention. “I built this television studio because I wanted to show that I can produce television on my own, whereas I’m not getting a check as an employee, I’m getting a check as a production company because I’m producing content, and I’m getting that bag too on top of me being the talent,” he explained. “I’m doing it with a purpose for not just myself, but looking for young talent, on the come up, that I can produce for years and years to come.” On the note of passing the torch, he concluded, “I want my legacy to be somebody that’s reaching out to help those on the come up.”

4. On the Miami Heat Big Three

Smith broke the story about LeBron James signing with the Miami Heat in 2010 before James’ official announcement was aired to the world. With more intel on deck, Smith revealed that Chris Bosh wasn’t the first option to join the Big Three, who won two NBA championships. “It was supposed to be D. Wade, LeBron and Melo, but Melo locked himself into the cash in Denver. And as a result, Bosh opted out. And because Bosh opted out, Bosh ended up going there with them. And Melo had to force his way out of Denver a year later to come to New York City.” This topic has come up before but hasn’t been addressed with detail, which prompted Smith to add, “I’ve never heard them admit it. I don’t give a s**t what they say; I’m telling you what I know.”

5. On the evolution of the NBA

The esteemed host touched on the heavier presence of European players in the league and noted how the style of play changed drastically after the Dream Team formed for the 1992 Olympics. “As the game evolved, you saw what attracted the global market to the sport. That wasn’t gonna do it,” he said in reference to the ‘80s era where the game was known for being much rougher. “You wanted to see shooters. You wanted to see a more up-tempo style. You wanted to see more finesse because it ensured the likelihood of those players being on the court more when it counted than if you allowed the physicality to dominate the game that could compromise cats.”

6. On why Michael Jordan is the GOAT

Smith weighed in on who he thinks is the greatest basketball player of all time while shutting down those who try to compare the best of each era. “Michael Jordan is 6-0 in the NBA Finals series. MVP of every single NBA Finals series, who never allowed the series to get to game seven. Not one time. And so, when you say to me, LeBron playing [in] that Jordan era [would’ve been] a threat to MJ, then what we have to ask ourselves is, how would MJ have responded to a perceived threat? You don’t get to dismiss that,” he said. “LeBron had Indiana with Paul George and Roy Hibbert. You ain’t have Boston with [Larry] Bird, [Kevin] McHale, [Robert] Parish, [Danny] Ainge. You ain’t have Isiah [Thomas], [Joe] Dumars, Vinny the Microwave coming off the bench, [John] Salley, [Bill] Laimbeer,” he continued. “You didn’t have those obstacles. That is how I look at it and that is why LeBron James will NEVER be my GOAT. Ever. It will always be Michael Jordan over him. But mad respect to him.”

7. On the Drake vs. Kendrick Lamar debate

Timelines all over the country are debating who owns the throne between K. Dot and Drake. Smith chimed in with his two cents: “I’m gonna go with Drake because even though everybody knows Kendrick Lamar and knows how gifted he is, you got too many people periodically trying to come at Drake, and he’s always standing. Like, mainstream, globally, I mean, he’s one of those dudes.” He further explained, “It could be the look, it could be how he communicates, it could be his flavor, it could be anything. But Drake d**n near seems impenetrable… Everybody’s always trying to come at Drake. And obviously I can relate to that.”

8. On Colin Kaepernick’s potential return to the NFL

Smith covered Colin Kaepernick’s possible return to the league extensively years ago. After taking some time away, Kaepernick had a chance to pitch his talents to many of the teams in the league, but he remixed the workout details last minute, which turned some scouts off and ultimately caused Smith to pull his support as well. “If you wanna play football, you’re at that workout. Twenty-six NFL teams? Eighteen of them African American? Showing up with all the technological equipment that an NFL team has to dissect and pick apart what you bring to the table, and you don’t show up? I’m done with you. You don’t wanna play. You wanna be a martyr,” he voiced. Though Smith appreciates Kaepernick’s commitment to the cause, he continued, “This ain’t about that. This is about you saying you wanted to play, and galvanizing folks to support you playing. You ain’t play in years; they wanna see you work out. And you didn’t show up. I’m done. And I been done with that story ever since.”

9. On Beyoncé

When tasked with choosing between Beyoncé and Rihanna, Smith stood 10 toes down on his answer. “Beyoncé all day,” he declared immediately. He gave Rih her flowers as well, but let it be known that in his opinion, not even Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin or Whitney Houston, among others, could come before the COWBOY CARTER creator. He continued his praise: “I ain’t a ‘member of the BeyHive.’ But if I was going to be a member of a hive, it would be the BeyHive. Beyoncé is so bad, as in great, I wouldn’t mind them calling me Stephen B. Smith. I mean that s**t. Ain’t nobody Beyoncé.”