Ken Jeong is helping ESPN tip-off its NBA season coverage by co-anchoring “SportsCenter” Friday evening.
The “Community” and “Hangover” comedic actor got the sweet gig by just being himself — a knowledgeable diehard NBA fan — and killing it on ESPN’s “First Take” morning debate show over the summer. “I wasn’t trying to put any mustard on it, no Mr. Chow (‘Hangover’) or Chang (‘Community’),” Jeong told TheWrap.
Clearly it worked, as Jeong was approached again by ESPN, this time to co-host their flagship show on one of its biggest dates — the network’s NBA tip-off night.
Jeong was beyond excited by the opportunity, he told TheWrap. After all, as a self-described diehard NBA fan, this is Jeong’s favorite time of year. The North Carolina native doesn’t have a team per se, but he speaks knowledgeably and with great admiration for stars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose — the last of whom he costarred with in a series of “Fast Don’t Lie” Adidas commercials.
The “guy from that thing” in the Miller Lite ads has truly become “that guy from everything,” he quipped. Adding the SportsCenter gig is another one of those “things,” but not just another thing to Jeong, who called it “the most surreal thing I’ve ever done.”
His strategy? “My goal is just to blend in,” he told TheWrap. “I don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb.” Worst case scenario, Jeong will just pass it off to “SportsCenter” regular and his Friday co-anchor, Lindsay Czarniak, he said. “I’m not acting tomorrow, I’m really just hanging out with very accomplished sports journalists and broadcasters,” Jeong added.
The fifth season of “Community” kicks off on Jan. 2. And Jeong is about as jazzed for that as he is to co-anchor the Worldwide Leader’s flagship news and highlights show.
“The episodes are outstanding, the scripts are outstanding,” he told TheWrap. “I’m so excited for these episodes. (They are) kind of resetting the Greendale universe according to (showrunner) Dan Harmon.”
While the actor could not reveal much about the community college crew’s future, he could not hide his enthusiasm: “A couple of Chang moments have been some of my favorite of the series — and of my career,” Jeong said.