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I've been in Europe this week, so I watched opening night NBA highlights in Dublin. We've been on a press tour for The Hangover Part III's DVD/Blu-Ray's release but it's been the release of LeBron, Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin that has been occupying my mind.
|Ken Jeong is an NBA fan, but he spent some time at Dodger Stadium with Matt Kemp earlier this season.|
I'm a hoops addict -- which is exactly why this opportunity to host tonight's 6 p.m. SportsCenter, on the first Friday of the 2013-14 NBA season, is so humbling.
I grew up in North Carolina, which was heaven for a hoops junkie, with Duke and Carolina right there. (Editor's Note: Jeong attended Duke as an undergraduate and received his M.D. from UNC. He is a licensed physician.)
The Chicago Bulls were my team growing up and count me as one who believes wholeheartedly that Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time. He transcended the hype.
I was one of the Cameron Crazies back in the day. I've mellowed out now. You'd have to ... you can't stay crazy for that long. One of my neighbors went to Duke, so he gets some people together for the Carolina games and we all watch at his house on the big screen.
So to think that I'll be on the SportsCenter set, with Lindsay Czarniak, talking about the NBA and the day's sports? It is so surreal. I'm grateful ESPN is allowing me to spend the day with them. I know it's a lot of work to put together a show and I'm looking forward to being part of the process.
I watch Lindsay and she is effortlessly charismatic and great at setting the tone of a telecast: She knows when to keep things light and when to keep things grounded. My goal is to fit in and not be distracting. I won't force anything. If I can blend in with the tone of SportsCenter, it would be a thrill.
I've always been fascinated with sports news and I understand a show like SportsCenter is a team sport. I do ensemble comedy -- multiple people in comedy. It's like team sports. I think about it all the time.
Take The Hangover -- it's not one person, it's a bunch of us and we all do different things. I think of it this way: Shane Battier brings the intangibles to the Heat. I'm the Shane Battier of The Hangover.
When I did ESPN2's First Take in July (at the ESPYs) I came totally prepared. People may have been stunned I didn't do over-the-top Mr. Chow gestures. But that's the real me, as a person, and that's my knowledge of the NBA.
I actually got to know Derrick Rose when we did an Adidas ad together, before he won the MVP (in 2011). He won that despite me -- I'm glad to see I didn't bring him down. He is really amazing. I enjoy watching him and I think he'll only get stronger as the first quarter of the season plays out.
Opening night was great -- the Heat and Bulls is a legitimate rivalry. Everyone is gunning for the Heat. But LeBron is doing what Michael did -- transcending the hype. Like Kobe ... and Durant too.
And Dwight Howard is going to have a monster year in Houston. I grew up with (Hakeem) Olajuwan and (Ralph) Sampson -- the Twin Towers -- and that's what Houston has now. They're going to intimidate small teams with their size.
I'm just hoping I'm not intimidated when I hear the "da da da, da da da" leading into the 6 p.m. ET SportsCenter.
Actors and anchors use a different muscle all together in what they each do. When you're acting, the camera is on you. On SportsCenter, the camera is really on the sports.
You're really more of a point guard than a dunker. The star is sports, and they facilitate the news. I'm really looking forward to exercising that muscle.