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Malika Andrews Hates NBA Bubble Comparisons To Prison

“As the bubble was beginning, Andrews mentioned that people joked with her about how her quarantine time was over and considering what has gone on in the United States, it was something that bothered her.”

Ricky Keeler

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After the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Finals Sunday night against the Miami Heat, the NBA bubble down in Walt Disney World officially came to a close. For 107 days, the NBA took on the tough task and it ended up being a success. 

One reporter who was down in Florida covering the action from the beginning to the end was ESPN’s Malika Andrews, who has become one of the rising stars in the industry. On the latest ESPN Daily with Pablo Torre, she talked to Torre before she left the bubble and when she got home to New York City and reflected on what life was like in Orlando and how it feels now that she’s back. 

During part of this podcast, she was joined by her producer, Malinda Adams, who was with Andrews for all 107 days in Orlando. As the bubble was beginning, Andrews mentioned that people joked with her about how her quarantine time was over and considering what has gone on in the United States, it was something that bothered her.

“When I first got here, there were a lot of folks who joked when you got out of quarantine, you served your time and that always bothered me mainly because when you look at prison systems in the United States, that has been a hot bed for Coronavirus in many cases and so they couldn’t be more different than the discomfort that folks who are incarcerated here in the United States are going through.”

Andrews and Adams had worked together before the bubble as Andrews said they worked together during the Eastern Conference Finals last season. However, when you are stuck in one place for a long period of time, that bond can continue to grow.

 That bond extended over to the people that Andrews and Adams were around daily inside of the bubble. While Andrews mentions that as a reporter, it is important to set boundaries with the people you cover, this experience, naturally, tended to be a little different. 

“I have long maintained that an important pillar of what we do is setting boundaries with the people you cover. I grow very fond of people I cover, but I try to make sure a friendship could never come between asking the necessary, hard questions that need to be asked. But, I do think there’s something bonding about this experience. Everyone became creatures of habit there and you got to know people’s quirks, habits, routines. We gave a hug to Heather in the mail room and Pam in the package room, people I never would have met.” 

Both of them reflected on their own memories of what went on in Orlando, but one moment stood out where Adams not only had to play producer, but she had to put on her reporter hat as well as the Bucks were about to boycott Game 5 of their first round series against the Magic.

“When the Milwaukee Bucks elected to boycott, it was Malinda who was following the Orlando Magic side of it because I could only be in one place. She was the one who was texting me, the Magic are on the court, they left the court. It was one of the things where she was a reporter down here,” said Andrews. 

So, now back in New York, what does Andrews think now about the NBA season not having a firm date for the 2021 season? She brought up there is some anxiety about no official date being mentioned yet.

“Well, part of the reason that I think there was a bittersweet feeling to the end of the bubble in addition to the fact there were many close relationships built, the fact that it was something that felt safe, I think the other thing that makes it a little bit sad and anxiety-provoking is that there isn’t a firm date for the restart of the season yet.”

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FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

Jordan Bondurant

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

Jordan Bondurant

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The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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