Dec 3, 2021 - Sports

Interview: Malika Andrews' meteoric rise at ESPN

Picture of Malika Andrews

ESPN's Malika Andrews. Photo: Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images

Malika Andrews' meteoric rise began in the NBA bubble, where she was ESPN's lead reporter at just 25 years old. 16 months later, she finds herself anchoring ESPN's daily show, "NBA Today."

What's happening: Axios spoke with Andrews about her bubble experience, the transition from sideline to studio, and what it's like working with the "NBA Today" family.

What's the transition from reporter to anchor been like?

I'm a worrier and a perfectionist, and live television is like the antithesis of that, so it's been an interesting sort of push-pull of what I forgive myself for and what I don't. But it's been fun. I have a whole newfound respect for anyone who has hosted a five-day-a-week show.
One of the biggest adjustments has been the schedule. I used to be up late after games, and now my schedule's flip-flopped because we start getting ready for the show at 6am.

What's it like covering the NBA through the lens of an hour-long daily show? It's a bit like a reality show sometimes, is it not?

Covering the NBA is about covering people. I think that's why it's sometimes compared to a reality show — because you actually get the chance to know the characters, not just the teams.
That's why it's so important to go to games and really invest time in the league and its people. That's the foundation of covering the NBA — relationships.

Looking back on the NBA bubble: What was that experience like living alongside the teams you were covering?

I look back at the bubble as a net positive. Maybe it's because of how my career continued to go from there. Maybe it's because I got to cover things that aren't often the central focus in sports. But going through that experience [with the players] created a different sort of trust.
Also — and I'm not proud of this — it was my first Disney Park experience! I grew up in California, I'm a Disney employee, and I have never been to a park, outside of living in one for 107 days. So now I'm on a mission to go for real.

Working on a daily TV show is a bit like being in a family. What's the "NBA Today" dynamic like?

It's definitely like a family. Our producer brought bagels today, I brought cookies. We have a family dinner tomorrow night. And that's what makes it fun — we all really enjoy being around each other.
Richard [Jefferson] is like the sarcastic uncle of the group, Perk [Kendrick Perkins] is the good time that just makes you laugh. Zach [Lowe] is like your grumpy second-cousin, Ramona [Shelburne] is the chatterbox aunt, Chiney [Ogwumike] is the cousin who everyone wants to be friends with because she's the coolest.
And I'm the mom that's like, "All right, everybody, make sure you buckle your seatbelt! Get some greens on the side! Kendrick, you can't just have pasta salad."
Go deeper