LeBron James’ move to the Los Angeles Lakers last year (and thus, the Pacific Time Zone) was cited as a key factor in declining NBA ratings and the league’s decision to move many nationally-televised West Coast games earlier this year. And now, it’s popped up in even a stranger spot; an account of how FS1’s Skip Bayless spends his days. There have been many, many Bayless profiles over the years that all hit a lot of the same points (his workout regimen, his early mornings, his debate preparation, his physical debating, his absurd analogies for himself, his questionable claims of only presenting authentic opinions, his ridiculous claims that he’s always correct and always wins, and so on), and the latest account of a day in Bayless’ life (as told to John Aceti of Sports Business Journal) hits a lot of those points again. But it also has a fascinating part on how James’ move to the Lakers is affecting Bayless’ sleep patterns:
5:45-9:00pm: Every evening I call our show runner, AZZIE MACKENZIE, and I just spill out to him as quickly as possible those 15 topics with my cliff notes opinion on each. We go back and forth on which ones would be the best topics. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to watch whatever the games are and prep because now I know pretty much that these are the topics. The late games are killers here now that LEBRON is in the West. They tip off at like 7:40 this time, and they’re not going to finish until say 10:00 here. Well, I’m going to get up at 2:00 so you can imagine how it’s played havoc with my home life and my sleep time. Otherwise I usually try to get to sleep by nine.
First off, there’s absolutely no reason that this has to “play havoc” with Bayless’ sleep. For one thing, he could just, you know, not watch every game James plays and spend so much time dissecting individual regular-season performances by James, most of which really don’t mean that much in the grand scheme of things. But given that Bayless’ brand is mostly about trolling James whenever possible (and Undisputed co-host Shannon Sharpe’s brand involves a lot of defending James whenever possible), that probably isn’t a fit. Still, Bayless has other options; while Undisputed does start airing at a relatively-early hour (9:30 a.m. Eastern/6:30 a.m. Pacific), he doesn’t actually have to get up at 2 a.m. Pacific. Let’s look at the earlier parts of his day:
2:00am: Monday through Friday, my workday always begins at 2:00am sharp. I set three alarms and I’ve never needed the second two. I don’t love it, but I don’t think about it. If I do, it starts to wear on me. But I love my job so much, I just accept that this is part of the necessary evil. I take the first 20 minutes to stretch while I’m usually reading my phone, scouring for the overnight stories. I eat one protein bar and run upstairs to where we have a little exercise room. I watch the overnight highlights, sometimes I’ll watch ESPN.
3:20am: I always run for one hour and as soon as I finish, I literally jump off and run down the stairs because I’m barely going to make it to our meeting. I go in the kitchen first, the night before I lay out 20 vitamins that I always take and I take those while I get a protein shake and one bottle of Propel. I also throw a blueberry bagel in the microwave for 30 seconds, and that’s going to be my breakfast.
4:05am: I only live about five minutes from the studio. We meet at four and throw the board together, the 10 best topics for my partner, SHANNON SHARPE and I, the 10 best authentic debates. A lot of that has been planned the night before and it usually takes until 4:30 to plot out the whole board.
None of what happens before 4 a.m. there is actually necessary! It’s Bayless’ own decision to get up, stretch for 20 minutes, run for an hour, and then race through a small breakfast before heading off to work. If he actually cared about maintaining his amount of sleep while still wanting to watch James’ games, he could easily do that just by sleeping in until 3 on those days and just doing 20 minutes of stretching and a light workout instead of an hour of running before his taping. (And if he’s so insistent on running each and every day, he could easily do that after his show ends at 9 a.m. Pacific; his typical post-show plans as described to Aceti are either working out or playing golf, and it would be easy to put some running in there if it matters so much.)
Also, it should be noted that Bayless says he naps from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Pacific every day, so he is getting some sleep in there as well. And he could presumably extend that nap if he felt like it. Bayless claims he’s prepping from 3 p.m. onwards by watching NBA games and so on, but given the actual quality of discussion that shows up on Undisputed, that doesn’t feel really necessary. You could replace much of the show with “LeBron is bad!” “No, LeBron is good!” without losing much, and that wouldn’t require this level of “preparation.”
Look, Skip Bayless can live his life however he wants to. If he wants to watch every single minute of every game James plays live, great. If he wants to insist on waking up at 2 a.m. and running for 60 minutes every day, great. But it’s not James’ decision to join the Lakers that’s “playing havoc” with Bayless’ “home life and sleep time”; Bayless’ own schedule could easily be readjusted to let him both get more sleep and still watch James if that’s what he wanted. Instead, he’s living a routine for the sake of a routine, and taking a needless shot at James along the way. (But hey, he’ll probably be happy that some of those Lakers’ national games will be earlier this year.)