Philadelphia: It is exciting to get to play on one of the marquee games during the holidays, and the City of Philadelphia will get to get a double dose of it on Christmas as the Philadelphia 76ers play the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia Eagles will take on the Oakland Raiders. The last time the 76ers played on Christmas Day was in 2001 when they fell to the Lakers while the last time we saw the Eagles play on Christmas Day was in 2006 as the Eagles beat the Cowboys to clinch a playoff spot.
Recently PHLSportsNation had a chance to speak to ESPN Monday Night Football and NBA reporter Lisa Salters, who will be pulling double duty on Christmas reporting on both the 76ers and Eagles games, on ESPN.
What was your reaction to doing both Eagles and 76ers games on Christmas Day?
Well, first I realized we had a Monday Night Football game on Christmas Day, so I thought ‘I guess I can’t do an NBA game like I normally do’. Then Tim Corrigan (ESPN’s NBA senior coordinating producer) reached out and said, ‘you actually can do it, and if you don’t mind we’d love to have you do it, but it’s up to you’. I said I would do it. With the game in New York, it was logistically feasible. I did consider taking the train because it’s right there at MSG. That’s usually how I get back and forth from games at The Garden. I just didn’t want to take the chance, so I figured it would be easier to finish there and get in a car to go to Philadelphia for MNF.
What is it like being on the sidelines for Monday Night Football?
It’s awesome. It’s humbling for someone who grew up watching MNF. It feels like a privilege, going back to all the games you used to watch as a kid. The moment is never lost on you every time you hear Heavy Action (the MNF theme). Every time I hear it, I just feel so proud. That song is so iconic. When you are a kid, you never think you will be a part of that, and so to be a part of that now is a little overwhelming. When I first got the gig, I couldn’t believe it. It still means something to me now every time I hear the music.
What’s your take on the Philadelphia Eagles and 76ers so far, this season?
I have not seen the Sixers in-person yet, but they’ve got so much buzz and everyone is so excited about them. I taped their game last week when ESPN did the Philadelphia All-Access. I was watching some of the SportsCenter that Friday morning. I knew I had this game coming up and I just wanted to see some behind the scenes stuff. I know they are a young team with great, young superstars. If they stay together for a couple of years, they should be really good. Philadelphia has been craving to have another good basketball team because the Sixers have not been very good since Allen Iverson was there. It’s a great basketball town. When I was a kid, after growing up watching Maurice Cheeks, Dr. J, Darryl Dawkins, Moses Malone, Doug Collins, I know Philly loves its hoops. I’m looking forward to seeing them play Monday just from a fan’s perspective to see how good they are.
As for the Eagles, I’m ride or die. I was crushed when Carson Wentz got hurt, but I like what I saw from Nick Foles last week. He has not played in two years and he throws four touchdowns and no interceptions. That was impressive to me. When I am on the sidelines doing my job, I am impartial, but I am an Eagles fan any other time.
Being from the Philadelphia area, what does it mean to cover both games on Christmas day?
It means my dad is very excited. These are the teams I rooted for as a kid. For me, that’s not so much of a big deal. The teams don’t really matter to me because it’s work, but for my family, it’s a huge deal. In fact, one of my nephews texted me today and said, ‘You are living the dream on Monday’. That gives you an idea of what it means to my family.
What’s the most memorable game you covered in Philadelphia?
It was a 76ers game in 2006, right when the news broke that Allen Iverson had requested to be traded. We had a game that night in Philadelphia. I don’t even remember the opponent. All day the 76ers were saying ‘no comment, no comment’. During the game, I interviewed (general manager) Billy King who said no comment. Then, later in the game, maybe second quarter, I interviewed team chairman Ed Snider. I asked the same questions I asked Billy King and I was expecting to get the same non-answers. I asked, ‘Is it true that Allen Iverson has requested to be traded?’ Snider said, “Yes, it is.” I then asked, “What was your response?” He said: “We are going to do our best to grant his request.” At the end of the interview, I asked if this was the last we have seen of Allen Iverson in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform and he said: “yes, yes we have”. We just did not expect this, and after that, it just took all of our attention away from the actual game. That was definitely the most memorable game in Philadelphia for me.
There have been several situations where game announcers and sideline reporters would do multiple games in the same day, the most recent one for a Christmas Day NBA & NFL game was Michele Tafoya in 2006 as she did both games in Miami (Lakers at Heat on ABC & Jets at Dolphins on ESPN).
This is very rare to have both the Eagles & 76ers play on Christmas Day, the question being is when will this ever happen again?
76ers at Knicks at 12 PM on ESPN from Madison Square Garden in New York
Raiders at Eagles at 8:30 PM on ESPN from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia