Behind The ScenesFirst TakeNBAStudio Shows

Cari Champion and the First Take crew take the show on the road for NBA Finals

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Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, Cari Champion and the First Take crew are on the road for the NBA Finals, traveling between Miami and San Antonio for live shows throughout the best-of-seven-game series.

Game 3 is Tuesday night in San Antonio (ABC, 9 p.m. ET), and First Take will telecast that morning (10 a.m., ESPN2) from the San Antonio Hard Rock Café before a live audience (fans are encouraged to attend). Champion gave Front Row some perspective on the studio show experience thus far in Miami, where she is reporting on her first NBA Finals since joining ESPN in October.

What’s it like taking the show on the road?
When First Take goes on the road, we see the dedication of our hardcore fanbase. I have the opportunity to really connect with the audience. The boys [Bayless and Smith] and I really feed off the live audience. The energy is palpable.

It’s an experience of a lifetime. This is the second year our show has been on the road for The Finals and I’m excited to be a part of what is now a tradition.

How is the show different when you have a live audience?
When you’re doing a live show in front of a crowd, most of the time we are relying on our chemistry as a team. It’s loud. There’s very little structure. And we are depending on our instincts, producers, of course, and the crowd to get through.

What are you looking forward to most about the NBA Finals?
A Game 7: a long, hard-fought battle. . . And meeting the fans. It’s going to be a blast.

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