She may be blonde and beautiful, but Kristen Ledlow and her accomplishments deserve far better treatment than being fit neatly into some tired narrative—no, they’re greater than that. Ledlow’s the new co-host of NBA TV’s reborn cult classic, Inside Stuff, which premiered Nov. 2, eight years after the original aired its final episode. It’s a right she’s earned after years of hard work taking double majors, talking sports on ESPN, FOX and 92.9 The Game and, of course, studying up enough to put our own sports knowledge to shame. Now, she gets to wake up knowing she’s following in the footsteps of legendary sports commentators such as Summer Sanders and working her dream job alongside former NBA player and Grant Hill, the guy stepping in for original co-host Ahmad Rashad. We caught up with Ledlow to ask her about the first few episodes of Inside Stuff, the new NBA season and who’d she’d like to go behind the scenes with.
BALLnROLL: What were some of your favourite episodes from the original Inside Stuff series?
Kristen Ledlow: NBA TV has provided us all with a phenomenal trip down memory lane in the last few weeks, airing the best of the best of Inside Stuff leading up to our premiere on Nov. 2. After re-watching so many of the old episodes, I think I’ve decided that the all-Barkley episode was my favorite. But how can anyone really choose? The show is a classic.
BnR: You’ve been a fan of the show for a while, so you must have thought to yourself at least once, “If I had the chance, I’d do X or Y”. What are some things on your wish list of stuff you’d like to do now that you’re at the reins of Inside Stuff?
KL: Growing up, I looked at women like Summer Sanders and had two thoughts: she has the dream job, and how the heck can I get it?! I’m overwhelmed at the opportunity that’s been handed to me. LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin are just a few of the guys I think would be a blast to get behind-the-scenes with, but it’s impossible to narrow it down. Oh! I’ve proposed a segment with Justin Timberlake to management. I’ve let them know I’d be willing to bite the bullet and conduct that interview—very professionally, of course.
BnR: Were there any particularly inspirational episodes for you in the original series?
BnR: As for the new series, the first episode recently aired. How would you describe your professional chemistry with Grant Hill as a co-host?
KL: Without exaggeration, Grant Hill is the kindest and classiest person I’ve had the pleasure to work with in this business. We hit it off the first time we met in the studio, and it’s been awesome working alongside someone I get along with so easily. We’ve had a blast working together and figuring out how to fill the shoes of the greats before us!
BnR: What surprised you most about Derrick Rose’s road to recovery, a topic tackled in the first episode of your show?
KL: It stinks that Rose and the Bulls lost during the season opener. But how cool that the Bulls won their home opener on a Derrick Rose shot at the buzzer? We couldn’t have written a story better than that one. What surprised me most about Derrick’s recovery is that he never made an appearance last year; however, after speaking with Grant about the mental and emotional recovery required after an injury, I understand it.
BnR: You also work on your morning show. How in the world do you hope to find the time to do that and Inside Stuff? We’re impressed!
KL: I nap a lot. Ha! If I complained about being tired, I’d be wrong for doing it. I consider myself hugely blessed to live my dream and to have the best of both worlds at 92.9 The Game and NBA TV. For me, this isn’t really a “job.” I would watch these football games anyway. I would read these basketball columns anyway. Yes, that means I’m constantly plugged in and my life is inundated with sports culture, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
BnR: Can you give us the breakdown on your previous reporting experience, and how you got to Inside Stuff? What drew you into sports journalism?
KL: When I was in middle school, Michael Jordan retired for the first time. I remember seeing a woman interviewing him and thinking, “she’s getting paid to talk to Michael Jordan.” Since that age, I’ve never wanted to do anything else. In college, I double majored in Broadcast and Communication while playing basketball, followed by volleyball later in my career. My first broadcasting experience was at Southeastern University, calling play-by-play for our men’s basketball team. I interned for WESH 2 News in Orlando during the 2009 NBA Finals between the Magic and Lakers, then went to Los Angeles to intern for ESPN during the ESPY’s. My first full-time job was at ABC 27 News in Tallahassee hosting “The Good News Show.” I moved on to work at ESPN Tallahassee, sideline reporting for Florida State University. Then, I was hired by FOX Sports NEXT to cover SEC and ACC football and basketball. Soon after that move to Atlanta, I landed my job at 92.9 The Game and Inside Stuff became a reality this fall. It’s taken a lot of hard work (and not many days off), but I’ve learned so much along the way and every experience has been incredible in its own right.
BnR: What storylines are you most excited for in the NBA season that just started? Any predictions for big moments?
KL: I couldn’t be more excited for this season, and I don’t think there’s a more perfect time to join the family at NBA TV. I’m excited to watch the former Celtics in Brooklyn, the return of Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard in Houston and which teams will be “riggin’ for Wiggins.” This 2014 NBA Draft class has the potential to be phenomenal, too. If I had to predict a “big moment” (which is impossible to do, by the way), I’m looking at Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron vs. D. Rose. We’ll see.
BnR: Which teams and players are you rooting for, and why?
KL: Well, I have a cat named “Magic,” so you do the math. I was also raised a Celtic fan by a father who grew up in the era that presented two choices: Lakers or Celtics. As my career has progressed, I’ve found myself rooting for individual players and coaches that have meant something to me along the way as well. I’m cheering for Kevin Durant as he’s proven to be a role model for young men off the court. I’m cheering for Derrick Rose as he rises up from his devastating injury. I’m even cheering for LeBron James as he’s somehow recaptured hearts across the nation! Call me cheesy if you will, but I’m always pulling for the comeback story. Can’t wait to see what happens this season.
BnR: Thank you for answering our questions! Follow Kristen on Twitter at @KristenLedlow.