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Stuart Scott remembers: U.S. troops overseas, covering the ’96 Olympic bombing and a horse in the ESPN men’s room

SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott on the set. (Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)
SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott on the set.
(Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

Since joining ESPN in 1993 for the launch of ESPN2, Stuart Scott has become a mainstay as an 11 p.m. ET SportsCenter anchor, as well as host for NBA on ESPN and ABC coverage, and for ESPN’s NFL programming. His unmistakable style and creative catchphrases have made him one of the network’s most popular and recognized anchors.

Favorite SportsCenter memory?
When SportsCenter went to Camp Arifjan Army Base in Kuwait (for September 2004’s Salute The Troops) and did live shows for a week. It was the most meaningful and impactful week in my professional career — working with and alongside service men and women, many of whom were either going into Baghdad, Iraq to fight, or just returning.

It was 130 degrees. The soldiers really appreciated us being there, but they didn’t get it: As much as they appreciated us, it wasn’t even close to the level of respect, appreciation and admiration we had for them and their sacrifices. It was the biggest honor of my TV career.

2000: ESPN anchor Stuart Scott on the SportsCenter set. (Rich Arden/ESPN Images)
2000: ESPN anchor Stuart Scott on the SportsCenter set. (Rich Arden/ESPN Images)

Most memorable breaking news story you covered on air?
Easy answer and one of the most profound moments of my professional career: Summer Olympics 1996. Rece Davis and I were doing the 2 a.m. (ET) SportsCenter the night the bomb exploded in Atlanta. We stayed on air for about eight-straight hours. No scripts. Producers, anchors, directors all working together. I felt like [former ABC News anchor] Peter Jennings. I was very proud of my news background and proud of the work we all did.

Favorite co-host?
I really don’t have a favorite. I’ve always appreciated the diversity of our staff. Had great times and long runs with Rich Eisen, Linda Cohn, Dan Patrick, Scott Van Pelt, Steve Levy and more recently, John Buccigross — team player!”

What is your pre-show ritual?
Before the first SportsCenter I ever did, I was worried about dropping the scripts on the way to the studio, so I decided never to touch them until they are laid on the studio desk. The teleprompter [operator] who prints scripts tries to give them to me early — I say ‘No. Put ‘em on the desk.’ It’s a superstition, I admit.

Favorite This is SportsCenter spot?
I have two favorites: The one I did with a horse in the bathroom; the other was a spontaneous holiday spot where I give Rich Eisen an IFB earpiece for Christmas. He’s touched by it, and we end up giving each other the awkward ‘man hug’.

Of any story in sports history, what’s the one you would have loved to have covered on SportsCenter?
I would’ve loved to have captured the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier heavyweight championship fight at Madison Square Garden in 1971. It was more than boxing. It was our culture, our country, African-American pride.

Twenty years from now, SportsCenter will be. . .
A lot closer to what it is now than people think. It’s still the bedrock of what we do: write great stories; extensive research; investigative reporting; bring the audience the best and most comprehensive highlights ever. We might be doing it inside of smart phones, but we’ll be doing it.

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