Holly Rowe (L) interviewing LSU's Angel Reese (C) and Flau'jae Johnson (R). Holly Rowe (L) interviewing LSU’s Angel Reese (C) and Flau’jae Johnson (R). (Awful Announcing on Twitter.)

There can be a difficult balance for broadcasters to strike in bringing up athletes’ off-field activities. When done well, that can add some great insight into who these people are, but when done poorly, it can be forced or repetitive. Maybe the best version of this in a while came from ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe in an interview with LSU women’s basketball stars Angel Reese and Flau’jae Johnson in the Sweet 16 of the women’s NCAA Tournament Saturday.

That interview came after the defending national champion Tigers beat the UCLA Bruins 78-69 to advance to the Elite Eight for the 10th time in program history. A lot of that was thanks to point guard Johnson, who had 24 points and 12 rebounds, her first double-double since November 17. After the game, Rowe interviewed Reese (who had 16 points and 11 rebounds, her 26th double-double this year) and Johnson together, and asked Johnson about how her offense had improved this year. Johnson responded by referencing her gym work and her need to prove herself as an athlete as well as a rapper, Rowe smoothly referenced her new single, and Johnson built off that:

“Speaking of being dominant, Flau’jae, your offense has taken such a huge step this year. How have you become a primetime player?” “I’ve been focused, I’ve been in the gym, I’ve been locked in. Every day I’m in the gym putting up reps, every day. Because I know people are going to discredit me because I rap and I hoop, so I know I got to go extra hard. So that’s what I do, I be in the gym.” “She does rap, her new single is ‘It Ain’t My Fault,’ but today, this win was your fault.” “It is our fault! It is our fault!”

That’s a tremendous interview from Rowe, and a very natural work-in of what she knows about Johnson’s music career. (You can read more on it in an excellent feature from Rachel Bachman of The Wall Street Journal last year.) It would have been odd for Rowe to bring that up in this particular short on-court post-game interview (that’s more of a subject for a press conference or a one-on-one away from the floor), but Johnson gave her the way in, Rowe used her research perfectly, and it led to a moment that Johnson, Reese, and even the LSU team account embraced:

Johnson also discussed this more in a post-game press conference:

For the record, here’s that “AMF” single off Johnson’s new “It Ain’t My Fault” album:

This was a fun moment all around, and a great way to organically discuss something interesting about a player. And it’s very cool that NCAA athletes can now have music careers, as daring to do that used to lead to ineligibility punishment.

This also adds to the many reasons Rowe (who re-upped with ESPN last year in addition to her work on Utah Jazz broadcasts) is beloved by many. Here, she did her research in advance but didn’t force it into an interview. But she was prepared in the perfect manner to reference it after Johnson brought it up. And it led to a notable TV moment.

[Awful Announcing on Twitter/X]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.