Name a sport that you watch on ESPN and chances are, you’ve tuned into a game called by Adam Amin. The Chicago native has done play-by-play for men’s and women’s college basketball, the WNBA, the NBA, college football, the Women’s College World Series and much more.
The son of Pakistani immigrants who was born in Chicago, Amin made headlines in 2018 when he delivered a poignant on-air moment at the Women’s Final Four, mouthing a message to his late father who had passed away just weeks earlier. One of ESPN’s most versatile performers, Amin has seen his list of assignments grow in variety and stature over the years.
We caught up with Amin for our “21 Questions” series and asked him about a bunch of different topics. Some of our queries were serious and enlightening; others, not so much. Regardless, this interview was a lot of fun.
You’ll find out the one sporting event Adam would love to call that he hasn’t yet, relive his most awkward on-air moment, plan a dream vacation and understand his affinity for random Chicago Cubs catchers.
Here we go…
1. Name the one sporting event you would love to call that you haven’t yet.
AA: I’m a greedy idiot so there’s about 5-10 I would love to do someday. But I’d love to be a part of Wimbledon. I just think that the history of the place, the aura of it…I think the aesthetic can impact your appreciation of the event itself, like Augusta does with the Masters. I think Wimbledon has that aura and I’d love to see it and be a part of that.
2. Do you have any superstitions and if so what are they?
AA: I’ve tried to stay away from superstitions because I’ve found that no game (and no pre-game) has the same rhythm or schedule to it. I never want to feel like not performing a certain ritual is going to have a negative impact on how I call a game. But, if I have a few moments to gather myself before a game, I’ll usually take a minute or two, often during the national anthem, to talk to my late father (who passed last year). He always loved that I had this job and “talking” to him feels natural and comfortable and easy.
3. Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks?
AA: I don’t drink coffee more than 3 or 4 times a year so this is a tough choice based on the rest of the menu. Starbuck’s doesn’t have donuts. But I like their desserts, the other drinks, and I have way more gift cards from ‘bucks than the Dunk. Also, I severely regret BOTH of those abbrevs.
4. You’re about to be sent to a deserted island. What is the one food item you bring to eat and the one album you take to listen to?
AA: Tacos, the perfect food. And I feel like I should say something like “Blonde on Blonde” or “Sgt. Pepper” but honestly, I’d bring “Late Registration” by Kanye West.
5. What is your go-to guilty pleasure movie?
AA: I don’t know how guilty I really feel with this cause I think most people either like it or are indifferent to it, but I do own the special edition “The Karate Kid” (FROM 1984, GTFO JADEN) on DVD…
6. You get 10 shots to make one NBA three-pointer. If you make one, you get a billion dollars. If you don’t make any, you go to maximum security prison for a year. Do you do it?
AA: 1 shot? Nah. 10? I have faith that I can make one 3-pointer and if I don’t, let me detail my plan to become an underworld Kingpin with my fellow inmates…
7. Most underrated Chicago pizza place? Most overrated?
AA: Underrated: Art of Pizza. An outstanding thin-crust. Overrated: Pizzeria Uno. I think there are better deep-dish pizzas out there including the staples (Malnati’s, Giordano’s Gino’s East) and the (also underrated) Pequod’s.
8. Rank these video games: Zelda, Mario Kart, Madden NFL, NBA Jam.
AA: Non-sports games still take the cake in terms of value so Zelda (breadth and depth of story), Mario Kart (best one of the best group gaming experiences), then NBA Jam (gimme the Tournament Edition) and Madden.
9. What’s your most embarrassing on-air moment?
AA: SOAK IN THE AWKWARDNESS
10. Which of your ESPN colleagues is the funniest behind closed doors?
AA: Tom Luginbill. Biting sense of humor, super sharp, and can take it as much as he dishes it out.
11. You can only eat food from one restaurant for the rest of your life. The food is always free, and it can be anything from a fast-food place to a four-star restaurant, but you cannot get it delivered. You can get it as takeout and are allowed to order more than one meal at a time. Which place do you pick?
AA: Oh, wow. So I have to actually leave my apartment for this? That’s an interesting caveat. There’s a couple of places within a decent walking distance that I could be very happy with…but I think I’ll go with The Dearborn. Really extensive menu.
12. Which would you rather have the opportunity to do in a game: dunk, hit a 400-foot home run or throw a touchdown pass?
AA: 400-foot home run so I can bat smash like Samantha Show of Oklahoma State softball as soon as I hit that moonshot.
13. When you think of SportsCenter in the 90s which anchor do you think of?
AA: Probably Olbermann and I’m going to guess that has to do with him still having a presence on ESPN and SportsCenter now.
14. Given how major an assignment it is and some of the big names who handled it before you, describe how you felt when you got the call to be the PxP guy for the Women’s Final Four.
AA: “Oh, and you’re doing the women’s Final Four.” It was more of a statement than a question and I was pretty flabbergasted. Knowing that colleagues and friends who I look up to have been on that event (Mike Patrick, Dave O’Brien, Beth Mowins), it makes you want to take care of that chair you’re sitting in because the others before did such a wonderful job.
15. What is the best food item at the ESPN cafeteria in Bristol?
AA: Whatever Schefter deems worthy.
16. You are given two weeks off from work to go anywhere in the world and do anything, all expenses paid. What does your vacation trip look like?
AA: Eat my way through Italy, Spain, Korea, and Japan before heading back to Italy and spending the rest of the time on the Amalfi Coast, sleeping off the food.
17. What fictional athlete from a sports movie/TV show would be the funnest to call on-air?
AA: Henry Rowengartner, Rookie of the Year. He’s mowing down some of baseball’s best hitters and then, doing a bunch of weird stuff to try to get outs against big league hitting. Would’ve been fun to describe.
18. What is a hidden talent you have that few people, if anyone, knows about?
AA: I love music and played the violin from about age 8 to 19 and still love to pick up and play when I can.
19. If you could have any job in the world other than what you have now, what would it be?
AA: Probably the same deal, I would’ve loved to have gone into musical performance or theater. But that’s kind of along the same lines of the current job, it’s performing in some capacity. Maybe if I really leaned into the moment, I’d try to become an honest-to-goodness chef. I really do love food.
20. Have you ever been confused on social media or in real life for the surfer Adam Amin?
AA: No one will ever confuse me for a professional athlete.
21. Who is your favorite random Chicago athlete of all time and why?
AA: Rick Wilkins, a 23rd round draft pick for the Cubs in 1986. I played catcher from the time I could play baseball until I stopped playing. And whoever the Cubs catcher was, THAT was my favorite player. And in my formative years, Wilkins was one of the Cubs catchers.
You can read more of our interviews with sports media stars here.