Updated: Friday, December 22, 2017, 10:38 AM
Feeling overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of Christmas this season? Maybe you should talk to ESPN’s Lisa Salters.
Salters, as she’s done since she started covering basketball for The NBA on ABC in 2005, is working on Christmas Day. But this year, she’s pulling double duty, reporting first from the Sixers-Knicks game at Madison Square Garden before heading down to Lincoln Financial Field, where she’ll handle the sideline reporting Monday night as the Eagles take on the Raiders.
The logistics are hive-inducing. She’ll spend the start of Christmas morning with her 4-year-old son, Samuel. At 8 a.m, a car service will arrive at her Baltimore home to drive her to New York City. She’ll arrive at Madison Square Garden around 10 a.m., be out of the makeup department by 10:30 a.m., and hustle to talk to players and coaches on both teams before the noon tip-off.
Once her ABC broadcast responsibilities are done, she’ll hop in another car and ride down I-95 to make it to Philadelphia, where she’ll go over any last-minute production notes before joining Monday Night Countdown for news updates. Kickoff isn’t until 8:30 p.m., so she likely won’t get home until after 1 a.m.
“I’m trying to compartmentalize everything,” said Salters, 51. She’s been spending evenings studying film and catching up on news — anything that might inform her reporting on both broadcasts.
The King of Prussia native is used to some crossover between her roles as a sideline reporter for both Monday Night Football and the NBA on ABC. Christmas Day is ABC’s big kickoff for its NBA coverage, and last year Salters covered the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Christmas before flying to Dallas to cover the Cowboys on Monday Night Football the next evening.
Salters isn’t the first ESPN sideline reporter to land double duty on Christmas. In 2006, before she moved to NBC, Michele Tafoya covered a Heat game in Miami in the afternoon and a Dolphins game that evening.
“At least for me, I grew up watching both the Eagles and the Sixers, so that works out for me,” Salters said. “I thought about reaching out to Michele, but what’s she going to tell me? It’s going to be difficult?”
Fortunately for Salters, having covered the Eagles earlier in the season means she’s familiar with the players and some of their story lines. There’s even the opportunity to resurrect a nugget or two that didn’t surface during the Eagles 34-24 victory over Washington that she covered in Week 7. She’s familiar with what the Sixers have been doing and has a handle on the Raiders players she’d like to speak to before Monday’s broadcast.
It’s the Knicks who are throwing her for a loop.
“It’s [Kristaps] Porzingis, and then who?” Salters said. “I haven’t really followed the Knicks much this season, but I will know all about them by Monday.”
Even more complicated than the logistics and research involved in covering two different games in two different sports is the fact that her son is much more aware of Christmas and Santa Claus this year.
“People say I should just spend the night in New York and not have to travel, and I say no, because he wants to wake up at home with gifts from Santa Claus,” Salters said. “Last year, we just pretended Christmas was the day before, and he wasn’t aware. That wouldn’t work this year.”
After the hectic holiday, there’s a reward waiting for Salters and her son on Dec. 26 — two tickets from Philadelphia to Turks and Caicos.
“If I can just make it to 8:30 a.m. and get on that plane, by 1 p.m. we’ll be on the beach,” Salters said. “It’s like a little pot of gold.”