ESPN broadcaster Cari Champion discusses Laura Ingraham's comments about LeBron James and Kevin Durant, her new role on SportsNation, Jemele Hill and more.
ESPN broadcaster Cari Champion, who will make her debut on March 12 as a new host on SportsNation, was a recent guest on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast where she was unequivocal in her feelings regarding the comments from Fox News host Laura Ingraham about LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
“I was furious, I was angry, I was pissed off,” says Champion. “I was all the things that everybody else was that watched that. She essentially, to me, said, ‘Shut up, n-word.’ I really didn’t like how it came across. It hit my spirits really, really hard. Because that is exactly what LeBron was talking about the entire car ride. That’s exactly what KD was talking about the entire car ride.”
As part of the “Rolling with the Champion” series Champion hosts (it features Champion interviewing NBA players as she drives them around) for the Uninterrupted platform, Champion drove for more than an hour with Durant and James last January 14 in Akron for an extended interview. It was just a remote camera inside the car with James, Durant and Champion, with cameras in cars in front and back of her car following them.
“I’m nervous as hell about an accident,” Champion says. “Somebody gets injured and it’s, ‘Cari has ruined the NBA!’”
As part of the podcast, Champion discussed how the interview with James and Durant came together; her reaction to Ingraham saying James and Durant should “shut up and dribble” and “must they run their mouths like that” following the NBA players’ criticism of President Donald Trump; what the conversation was like after the cameras stopped rolling; how she felt about her role on First Take, specially the limitations of being able to get her voice into the show; hanging out with Tupac Shakur while growing up in Los Angeles; her longtime friendship with Jemele Hill and why she thinks it did not work out at SportsCenter; her confirming Hill left SportsCenter and was not pushed out; what comes with being a prominent African American woman in sports TV; working with young woman of color who want to enter sports broadcasting and journalism, and much more.
To listen to the podcast in full, check it out on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.
• 1:50: How the car ride between LeBron James and Kevin Durant in Akron came together.
• 6:10: How Champion prepped for the interview.
• 10:20: LeBron James’s comments on Trump and the potential impact of those comments.
• 15:50 Champion’s thoughts on Ingraham’s comments.
• 22:40: Her new job as a host of SportsNation.
• 28:00: Her role on First Take and figuring out an avenue to get her voice out beyond a moderator.
• 38:10: Her friendship with Jemele Hill and why Hill ultimately left SportsCenter.
• 40:20: The backlash for Hill online and elsewhere.
• 47:20: Spending a day with Tupac Shakur when she was 18.
• 52:00: Her role as a prominent women of color in sports broadcasting and how often younger women of color reach out to her for advice on getting into sports media.