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ESPN’s MLK Day Observance Includes Obama “First Fan” Salute; Athletes Speaking of Dr. King’s Legacy

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Bulls-Grizzlies Sunday Night Game Telecast to Include MLK Day Elements

A tribute to the sports fandom and involvement of outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama and a special edition of The Jump will highlight ESPN programming in observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, January 16.

In addition, ESPN’s telecast of the NBA game between the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, Jan. 15, at 9 p.m. ET will include MLK Day elements and Dr. King will be remembered in a series of “Preserving the Legacy” athlete and coach vignettes airing throughout the weekend and on MLK Day.

The observance will continue in the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter on MLK Day with segments saluting the “First Fan” only a few days before he leaves the presidency, ending his historic eight years as the first African-American to hold the office. Michael Eaves will anchor the program.

 

Greensboro, NC- October 11, 2016 - North Carolina A&T: Stan Verrett (l) and President Barack Obama during the A Conversation with The President: Sports, Race & Achievement.(photo by Brent Lewis / ESPN Images)

Greensboro, NC- October 11, 2016 – North Carolina A&T: Stan Verrett (l) and President Barack Obama during the A Conversation with The President: Sports, Race & Achievement.(photo by Brent Lewis / ESPN Images)

Highlights:

  • Obama’s love of basketball will be highlighted in a feature that includes his participation with ESPN’s Andy Katz in selecting brackets for the NCAA men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments during his presidency.
  • The World Series champion Chicago Cubs will visit the White House on MLK Day, with the ceremony airing live on ESPN’s Outside the Lines at 1 p.m. Highlights of the event and other championship team visits during Obama’s presidency will air during SportsCenter.
  • ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, co-host of Pardon the Interruption, discusses the significance and legacy of Obama’s presidency. .
  • Michael Smith and Jemele Hill, who will become anchors of the 6 p.m. SportsCenter beginning February 6, will discuss their visits to the White House and the impact Obama has had on sports and culture while in office.
  • Various prominent sports figures will contribute video tributes to Obama that will air during the SportsCenter

Continuing ESPN’s long history of documenting the president’s sports connections, SportsCenter will air a feature on the sports involvement of President-Elect Donald Trump later next week.

The Sunday NBA game telecast also will include:

  • Moments from a private tour of the National Civil Rights Museum. Members of the Memphis Grizzlies and a group of 2017 civil rights honorees joined the tour.
  • Recognition of Grant Hill, Steve Smith and Lisa Leslie, who will receive the museum’s Sports Legacy award at halftime. The award pays tribute to athletes who have made significant contributions to civil and human rights and who have laid the foundation for future leaders through their sports careers.
  • A special open honoring Dr. King, narrated by 12-time NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade of the Chicago Bulls.

The Monday edition of the daily NBA studio show The Jump will air from San Francisco with host Rachel Nichols, analyst Stephen Jackson and ESPN NBA Insider Marc Stein at 4 p.m. on ESPN. The program will include a feature with NBA players Dwight Howard, Kevin Love, Paul George, Damian Lillard, JJ Redick, Tyson Chandler and Wade explaining why Dr. King’s teachings are more relevant today than ever.

The “Preserving the Legacy” vignettes will air during programming across all of ESPN’s television networks and on TheUndefeated.com Jan. 14-16. Participants include Dwight Freeney, Vic Beasley, Dan Quinn, Misty Copeland, Lovie Smith, Kyrie Irving, Mo’ne Davis, Russell Wilson and others.

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