Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cavs Fan Guide: ESPN’s John Anderson returns to town for SportsCenter broadcast

Photo by Phil Ellsworth, ESPN Images

As a youngster growing up in Wisconsin, one of John Anderson’s prized possessions was a Cleveland Browns football helmet. “My uncle lived in Cleveland and got one for me back when an NFL helmet was hard to come by,” says the 50-year-old ESPN SportsCenter anchor. “I would pretend I was Brian Sipe.”

Anderson joins colleagues John Buccigross and Lindsay Czarniak for live broadcasts from their East Fourth Street pop-up stage Tuesday through Thursday at 6 p.m. and immediately after games 3 and 4 as part of ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Finals (ESPN will also broadcast its First Take show live from the Music Box Supper Club Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to noon with 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. segments on game days). We talk with Anderson about Cleveland Cavaliers fans, social media and the rise of the network.

Q: This will be your third trip to Cleveland since the Cavs’ opening night loss to the New York Knicks in October. What’s it like to go on the road with SportsCenter?
A: One more trip here and I fear I’m going to have to pay Ohio income tax. It’s nice to have a studio with all the bells and whistles, but on Fourth Street you can’t help but feel all the energy right on top of you. The fans have always been fantastic here and now, with a chance to win a championship, they will be off the hook. As a Rust Belt guy, I know when fans are fully invested in their teams.

Q: Unlike many broadcasters, you’re not on Twitter. Why?
A: There are people who use it intelligently, but they’re a small percentage. Twitter is America’s knee-jerk reaction to everything. Everyone there is pretty sure they are the funniest people in the world, and everyone’s an expert. It helps promote our product, but it’s just not me. I don’t use it because a) I would need an editor and b) if I have a really good thought I don’t want to give it away at 8:30 if I might need it at 11.

Q: You have been at ESPN for 16 years. How has the network changed during that time?
A: It’s exploded in size, and it has exploded in its coverage. SportsCenter itself has increased its reach by going to events like the NBA Finals. And it’s become much more important programming to people. Sports are the actual reality television.

Q: What do you watch on TV?
A: If sports are on, that’s what I’m watching. I’m not watching Game of Thrones or House of Cards. If I get home at 2 a.m. and the Irish Open is on, I’m watching it.

By Barry Goodrich

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