Researcher-turned-producer Anol takes helm of weekend editions of NBA Countdown

Alvin Anol (L) is the new producer of weekend editions of NBA Countdown and has a long friendship with analyst Magic Johnson. (Photo courtesy of Alvin Anol)
Alvin Anol (L) is the new producer of weekend editions of NBA Countdown and has a long friendship with analyst Magic Johnson. (Photo courtesy of Alvin Anol)
Amina Hussein, ESPN NBA coordinating producer, on Alvin Anol:

“Alvin’s a passionate, dedicated and knowledgeable member of our NBA Countdown family. Through his hard work over the years as a researcher and a segment producer, Alvin earned the trust of [commentators] Sage [Steele], Magic and Michael [Wilbon] and we’re anticipating having great weekend shows this season.”

ESPN segment producer Alvin Anol has made a significant impact on NBA Countdown over the years.

The researcher-turned-segment producer has made such a positive impression, he’s been asked to take on a high-profile role this season.

Anol, who joined ESPN in March 2009, will produce the weekend editions of NBA Countdown on ABC (debuting Saturday, Jan. 21, 8 p.m. ET). The Jan. 21 show airs before the Season Two debut of the NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC series. Anol also will produce studio programming tied to the ABC NBA Sunday Showcase (Sunday, Jan. 29, 3 p.m.).

On the eve of Anol’s debut in his new role, Front Row caught up with him to discuss how he’s preparing for NBA Countdown on ABC and highlights from working with returning ESPN analyst Earvin “Magic” Johnson past and present.

What was your reaction when you found out you’d be producing the weekend editions of NBA Countdown on ABC?
I was definitely excited, but at the same time, I was also a little nervous given the magnitude of the show.

How have you been preparing for this role?
Last season, Amina [Hussein, see sidebar] allowed me to produce halftime shows and the segments in-between games, which has also carried into this season. And, thanks to people like [coordinating producers] Bruce Bernstein and Richelle Markazene, I’ve also produced additional NBA studio programming and SportsNation. When I haven’t been in the chair, I’ve worked alongside Lisa James [ESPN producer] the past couple of years. She’s been an invaluable mentor to me, and willing to provide feedback whenever I seek it. She sets an incredibly high bar, and I can only benefit from trying to match the lofty standards she sets.

Do you have any fond memories of working with Earvin “Magic” Johnson during his first stint with ESPN?
One of my favorite things was when Magic would arrive for the show; he would greet me with an elongated “Alllllvin” and a handshake and hug. That’s also exactly what happened when he joined us again on Christmas Day. As a lifetime Laker fan, I can’t even begin to describe what’s it like when the greatest Laker of all time shows you love like that.