Why University Of Portland Alum Malika Andrews Should Host NBA Countdown

The world of sports reporting was just like every other facet of life; it was severely affected during the pandemic. Many fell out of their roles, some simply got lost with no sports, but others ascended. With new challenges and opportunities, assignments in the reporting world opened, often for a lesser name or up-and-coming reporters; and Malika Andrews fits this category. She was well-known in the ESPN family but had not yet broken through to the national stage. Then, the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, was formed, and Malika Andrews got the everyday assignment.

From there, she was thrust into more high-profile assignments, none bigger than the 2021 NBA Finals. Even her lack of experience, high ratings, and astute reporting led propelled the 26-year-old to stardom. Here is a walkthrough of her life/career and her next possible assignment at ESPN.

Who is Malika Andrews?

To take a step back, Andrews did not always fit the role of an up-and-coming star. At an early age, she battled an eating disorder, family troubles, and failed her 8th-grade year. At 17, she returned to her home in Oakland, working at a civil rights law firm with her grandfather, cheering on the Golden State Warriors. She then decided to attend the University of Portland, where she studied communications and thrived at the college newspaper. At the University of Portland, she was known for her passionate, articulate sports articles that would spark change throughout the university. Andrews was awarded the National Association of Black Journalists scholarship for her excellence in writing. This propelled her to working alongside professional journalists and eventually for ESPN. 

Early Career

Malika Andrews started like many other journalists, skipping around newspapers from the Denver Post to the New York Times then to the Chicago Tribune. Then, Cristina Daglas of ESPN’s NBA Division brought on Andrews to cover the Bucks and the Bulls. She later would move to New York to cover the Knicks and the Nets for ESPN. Andrews thrived in her young roles and seemed to be primed for the big stage. Her knowledge and passion for covering sports were apparent to everyone who read her pieces. 

Andrews even had some star-studded readers like Adrian Wojnarowski, a columnist, reporter for ESPN. He read her pieces when she was working at the Beacon in Portland. Andrews later introduced herself to Wojnarowski at an NBA Summer League game, only to find out he knew who she was. This was an early introduction to ESPN for Andrews. 

Rise to Stardom

Malika Andrews undoubtedly got her big break when she was hand-picked to be one of the first people to enter the ESPN Wide World of Sports for the NBA Bubble in Orlando. There, she aired on ESPN networks daily, reporting on all things NBA Bubble-related. Despite her lack of experience on the big stage, Andrews won over everyone who watched and listened to her astute reporting. 

This high-class performance yielded the NBA Finals sideline reporter job after Rachel Nichols pulled from the assignment. This made Andrews the youngest ever sports broadcaster to host the NBA Finals Trophy ceremony. Andrews did not disappoint in this role either. Interviewing the biggest stars in basketball is no easy task. Many took to social media to compliment her professional demeanor, even at the young age of 26. In addition to the sideline reporting assignment, Andrews was tasked with leading the postgame presentation after the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA Championship. Even amidst the commotion of the celebration, Andrews maintained composure and delivered a professional performance. Again, her poise showed the network she is a superstar reporter in the making. 

The Next NBA Countdown Host

After Maria Taylor took her new position at NBC, ESPN’s NBA Countdown is in search of a new host. While previous versions of the show have had multiple hosts throughout the show, it appears ESPN is in search of a permanent host after the recent drama. Taylor and Nichols were tasked with splitting time as hosts of the show. This model yielded drama when Taylor got the Finals assignment instead of Nichols, where she cited “race” as the leading factor for this decision. Regardless, Taylor has moved on, and Nichols is not in the running for the job. 

Malika Andrews is one of the leading candidates for the host job, according to Front Office Sports. Other candidates reportedly running for the job are Cassidy Hubbarth, Elle Duncan, and Sage Steele. Each candidate besides Andrews has years of experience hosting shows at ESPN. Regardless, Andrews would bring a younger, charismatic approach to the already popular show. 

It seems as though Andrews would be the most logical choice for the NBA Countdown host job. The only thing working against Andrews is that she has zero hosting experience at ESPN, the role she is being considered for. Regardless, it seems as though ESPN would give one of their rising stars a chance to show off her potential. Even if the NBA Countdown host gig does not work out, ESPN will surely find a way to highlight Andrews in many ways. In addition to her charismatic approach to broadcasting, Andrews advocates for race and gender inclusiveness throughout her profession and elsewhere. Her approach to broadcasting and sports should fit into the hosting role. 

Conclusion: Malika Andrews is a Star

Malika Andrews is an up-and-coming star. Her accomplishments in her young career include a 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 in the sports industry and a 2021 Emmy in the Emerging On-Air Talent category. She also appears on several shows on ESPN covering countless facets of sports. 

From her roots in Oakland and Portland, Malika Andrews has ascended into stardom in recent years. Her astute reporting and friendly demeanor have proven invaluable to her success as a reporter. It has become clear that the best for Malika Andrews has yet to come. Whether it is on ESPN’s NBA Countdown or elsewhere, Andrews will be successful. It will not be long until she is a household name, if she is not already.