ESPN's Jalen Rose Talks L.A. Lakers, Grantland and His Secret to 'Capturing a Multimedia Audience'

8:46 PM PST 03/19/2014 by Debbie Emery
AP Photo/Bill Haber
Jalen Rose and Kevin Hart during the NBA All-Star Celebrity game.

The former basketball player joined forces with his Grantland and "NBA Countdown" colleague Bill Simmons to announce the Los Angeles Lakers game for the first time together on Wednesday.

Jalen Rose is far more than a former NBA player.

Now an ESPN/ABC analyst, co-host of NBA Countdown and Grantland.com contributor, Rose revealed how he went from scoring baskets on the court [most notably with the Indiana Pacers] to being a "multimedia personality."

On Wednesday, Rose and his colleague both online and on-air, Bill Simmons, took to the broadcasting booth at the Staples Center to announce the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs game.

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"It's going to be our first time announcing the game together," Rose told The Hollywood Reporter before tip-off, brushing off any pre-game nerves. "We are going to be fine as we already have an established personality and brand of our own. Fans respect you when you work hard and know what you're talking about, even if they don't like you. Our fan base is underground and those people appreciate us, but this is going to capture a whole different audience."

Capturing "more than one audience" has been the key to Rose's professional philosophy since he retired from playing in 2007.

"What me and Bill are trying to do is outwork one another and outwork the entire industry at the same time!" he said. "How you do that is we are both passionate and live and breathe sports, 24/7, 365 days a year. Even when I was still playing, I was still on YouTube, trying to capture the online audience before there was a lot of blogging, Twitter or Facebook," he explained, adding that he actively pitched his idea for a podcast show to Simmons a few years ago.

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"ESPN had a classified party full of suits during the ESPYs where I knew he was going to be, so I went there to pitch my idea to him. He said, ‘Call me on Monday morning,’ so I called at 9 a.m.," he said. "I said 'David Jacoby has to be my host -- he is the straw that stirs the drink.'"

He has since expanded his platform across Grantland and onto ESPN, first on SportsCenter and now NBA Countdown, as well as commentating for College GameDay, the McDonald's All-American high school games and even boxing.

"To be an expert at something you have to study your craft. It is hard to capture any audience, I am fortunate to be on ESPN's number-one NBA show -- the only one that does Monday, Wednesday and Sunday -- I have a podcast and I also produce with Bill. When you are doing a boxing weigh-in, it is a lot different to doing a podcast or calling the Duke-Syracuse game," he said.

"The dirty words are 'hard work.' You have to be on top of your game -- not only on current events or in your specialty. Sports and entertainment has to be your lifestyle and you must be consumed by it. The secret is that you have to outwork everybody," Rose, the executive producer of one of 30 for 30's most successful films, The Fab Five, said.

When it comes to collaborating with Grantland editor-in-chief Simmons, "What makes our relationship work is that we come from different backgrounds. We don't agree on everything, we have strong opinions and we are knowledgeable about what we see," he said. "But most importantly, we open up doors to a different audience for each other, whether it is through race or gender."

The pair went head-to-head in February when they coached the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, which featured Kevin Hart and Michael B. Jordan, and Rose has aspirations of following in both of their footsteps.

"The next thing that we have to do in maybe two years is we have to make a buddy cop movie and get our Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte on! We will absolutely get Kevin in it," he said, adding: "I want to produce a movie. That is what I aspire to do."

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