OAKLAND, Calif. – As NBA Countdown continues its 2015 postseason roadshow prior to Game 1 of the NBA Finals tonight (9 p.m. ET, ABC), we caught up with the show’s producer, Lisa James. She took some time to discuss her “Magic” moment at work and her love of the NBA.
How would you describe your ESPN NBA job?
Fun. I love what I do. Anybody who has spent any time around me knows I love the NBA. I love live TV. And the best part is every day presents a new story and the challenge of presenting those stories to the viewer in unique and creative ways.
What is typical show day like for you?
I wake up thinking about the show. I start off by checking email and Twitter, most likely followed by tons of conversations with Amina [Hussein] (coordinating producer of NBA Countdown). I meet with the staff before the show, followed by the talent. We go over all of the elements in the show and discussion points. Some days we have tapings and other days we don’t. Most of the time we have a 30-minute show then we watch the games and decide on what we want to talk about at halftime. And of course, I make sure to get at least one new story a day from [analysts] Jalen [Rose] and Doug [Collins] about their NBA careers.
Who are some of the colleagues who help you get your job done?
I am not sure the last time a day went by where I didn’t talk to Amina, but there are a ton of people who help on an everyday basis. Alvin Anol (segment producer), Ty Frison and Matt Sellars (directors), Jill Krebs (associate director), Brandon Lowe (associate producer), Terrell Bouza (associate producer), Jesse Arendt (associate producer), Sidd Sinha (associate producer), Rachel Sampson (associate producer), Ryan Feldman (researcher), Matt Anaya (content associate), our content associates in Bristol, Kristin Beauchamp (lead controller, motion graphics) and Chris Cerros (designer, motion graphics) always taking care of our graphics, and countless others in the control room and studio. I am sure there are more that I am missing.
What’s your best moment at work?
My best moment ever at work was meeting Magic Johnson at the 2008 NBA Finals. I was a researcher for NBA Countdown and [ESPN commentator] Michael Wilbon introduced me to Magic as the “biggest Laker fan you will ever meet.” It was a pretty special moment for me. Magic was a guest analyst for Game 1 and I eventually got to work several years with him after that.
I guess we know who your NBA team is. . .
I am blessed to have been alive for 10 of those Lakers Championships and to remember eight of them. My first real memory is the junior, junior sky hook by Magic.
What is your favorite part of the NBA Playoffs?
Every game matters. You feel the intensity every game. It is survival of the fittest. Plus, there is nothing like watching your favorite team win a title, or the Spurs get revenge last year against the Heat, or this year with all the buzzer beaters. And in this year’s NBA Finals, either we will see a storybook season by Steph Curry and the Warriors or LeBron James brings a title to Cleveland. Either way, it is a great story.