ESPN commentator and Connecticut Sun guard Kara Lawson talks about missing Pat Summitt, her broadcasting career and Kim Perrot:
You played for Tennessee. How much has the game missed Pat Summitt this year?
Any time you’re talking about someone who is the face of the game and a legend and someone that a lot of coaches and programs model themselves after, certainly her presence is missed. Pat was a force of nature. But just like any sport, any coach, any player, it goes on. New teams emerge. Other teams stay consistent, and we are able to find some things to distract us from her absence. But to say we’re going to find somebody who replaces her is a little bit presumptuous.
How about the job new coach Holly Warlick did this year then?
Holly did a great job. She lost five starters from last year, brought in a young group and was able to win the conference. Putting together a staff was one of the best things she did, because they had lost some ground in recruiting.
When you were playing, did you see yourself headed for a broadcast career?
Not at all. I majored in finance, and I wanted to go to law school. But ESPN asked me to come in and audition. I thought, “Free trip to ESPN. I’ll take it.” Then I got it, and they said they were going to pay me to talk about basketball. I thought, “I’m 23. That’s pretty good. Why not?” Ten years later, I’m still here.
You are one of the few active professional athletes who’s also active as a broadcaster. Does that give you any special perspective or problems?
It’s a challenge. It’s not easy to be a pro athlete and just take off eight months and show up for training camp. And I don’t go overseas to play, either. You have to be real disciplined in your training and make sure you get that in. Make sure you do a service to both jobs and don’t neglect one, which is what I try to do.
ESPN is the home of the Women’s Final Four, but it’s hard to find a lot of talk about the game on “SportsCenter” unless it’s something like Brittney Griner dunking. Is that frustrating to you?
I don’t do “SportsCenter” because that’s a separate department, so I can’t talk about what the reasoning is. That’s above me, and I don’t want to ruffle any feathers. But absolutely I’d like to see more.
You won the WNBA’s Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award last year. What did that mean to you?
I never got to meet Kim (a former UL-Lafayette star). But I watched like many young players did during that Houston Comets run of championships and loved the way she played, her energy, her toughness and the way she led her team. I was a fan from afar and was very proud to win the award named for her.
UConn or Louisville on Tuesday night?