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Oakland’s Finest: The Meteoric Rise Of Malika Andrews

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Brooklyn Nets v Memphis Grizzlies

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Malika Andrews’ name is quickly becoming a fixture in the world of sports.

The young television personality will host the 2022 NBA Draft, making her the first woman in history to host the event. She will be replacing Rece Davis, who hosted the broadcast for the last 10 years. She also hosted the NBA Draft lottery in May of this year.

Andrews will be making her NBA Draft hosting debut on the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the federal civil rights law which prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government. The law had a profound impact on women’s college sports, most specifically women’s basketball. Although Andrews doesn’t play the sport, her impact on young women who love the game is truly inspiring.

The NBA Draft will air tonight on ESPN. Andrews will be joined on the telecast by Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins, Bobby Marks, Adrian Wojnarowski, and Mike Schmitz. 

But who is Malika Andrews and why is everyone so excited about her meteoric rise to fame?

Before her popular day-time show NBA Today, the 26-year-old journalist built her chops for covering sports news as an online writer and sideline reporter with ESPN. Andrews spent the majority of the 2018-2019 season severing as a reporter covering the scoop on the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls. The Oakland, California native also worked at the Chicago Tribune as a reporter shortly before she joined ESPN that year.

In July 2021, the burgeoning newscaster received a life-changing opportunity to become the sideline reporter during the NBA Finals. The big move came after the network replaced longtime reporter Rachel Nichols from her coveted post following a scathing interview that the New York Times had published. Nichols was given the boot after she accidentally uploaded a private phone conversation she had to ESPN servers in which she suggested that Maria Taylor had only been selected for NBA coverage because the network was “feeling pressure about [their] crappy longtime record on diversity.”

Fast forward and now Andrews will replace Nichols’ popular weekday show “The Jump” with her very own. “NBA Today” kicked off on Oct. 18 and will feature a regular ongoing panel of heavy sports analysts including former NBA players Vince Carter and Kendrick Perkins as well as current WNBA player Chiney Ogwumike and writer Zach Lowe. It’s a huge deal for a young Black NBA correspondent like Andrews as the rising star attempts to turn a new leaf with the station following Nichols’ drama.

“It’s an incredible time to cover the NBA—a league that is full of characters and stories that have resonance far beyond the sports world,” Andrews said in a statement. “Our goal every day is to deliver information and analysis to our viewers that can’t be gleaned anywhere else. I’m so excited to showcase the league and the talented reporters, analysts, and insiders on our team.

The buzzing ESPN show host has already received a few nods from some big named sports buffs like Sage Steele who applauded Andrews back in July for her reporting of the NBA Bubble during the height of the pandemic.

“Just want to give a well-deserved shout-out to Malika Andrews. She was thrust into an incredibly difficult position, with zero notice, after only a couple of years in this crazy business….and she ROCKED IT. Great job @malika_andrews I am so so happy for you,” she tweeted.

Toronto Raptors v Philadelphia 76ers

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Andrews was one of the first media members allowed inside the NBA bubble, regularly appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter and reporting from the sidelines of the Conference Finals. When the NBA season ended in October, the then 25-year-old Andrews was one of its breakout stars.  The 26-year-old’s major feat comes at an interesting time, especially after the recent departure of long-time ESPN host, Maria Taylor, who left shortly after Nichols’ controversy in July.

Recently, Sage Steele was suspended from the network following a few controversial comments she made during an appearance on the “Uncut with Jay Cutler” podcast on Oct. 5. Steele shared some questionable remarks about ESPN’s vaccine mandate and claimed that when younger women wear sexy attire in the journalism industry that they often open themselves up to sexual harassment.

“When you dress like that, I’m not saying you deserve the gross comments, but you know what you’re doing when you’re putting that outfit on, too,” Steele said. No word on whether her comments were directed towards the burgeoning newscaster.

Whatever the case may be, Andrews will have some big shoes to fill, but it seems as though she is up for the challenge. 

You can watch Malika in action on weekdays at 3 pm EST on ESPN and ESPN 2.

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