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Dan Patrick: ‘Competition with Stuart Scott Made Me Better’

When Dan Patrick worked at ESPN starting in 1999, he became one of the faces of the network appearing with Keith Olbermann on SportsCenter. The duo’s edition of the flagship program came to be known as the “Big Show,” and it was a staple of sports coverage at the time. Another edition of the program was led by Rich Eisen and the late-Stuart Scott, and they exhibited consistent rapport and a strong chemistry on the air that helped define the show. While all of the SportsCenter anchors were, in theory, on the same team, there was a level of competition evident within the building that manifested itself in different ways.

In a recent appearance on the Macrodosing podcast through Barstool Sports, Patrick recalled a story about playing pick-up basketball against Stuart Scott. Knowing that Scott was an inherent competitor having played against him before, Patrick decided to run up and down the floor to work up a sweat. As soon as he started doing this, Scott began to defend him and it led to a contentious interaction.

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“He’s forearming me and bodying me; the whole thing,” Patrick recalled. “Here I was being a dick on the floor and I was like, ‘Okay, now you’ve got me. I’m going to be this competitive guy,’ and I said, ‘I’m dribbling [with] my left hand.’ He’s down on the floor like a Duke basketball player slapping the floor and I said, ‘Where do you want me to f****ng score on you?’

Patrick directly opposed Scott and moved down the baseline to attempt a layup, but was undercut and knocked to the floor on his back by the defender. The play resulted in an injury and the other SportsCenter anchors suggested he go to the hospital. After a respite in the bleachers, he returned to the floor at the top of the key and made a shot before exiting the gym. From there, he went to the emergency room and discovered that he had suffered a chipped vertebra. Nonetheless, he went back to the studios to anchor SportsCenter that night and told Scott there was no animosity between them over what had happened. The entire ordeal, Patrick said, encapsulated the type of relationship they had.

“I don’t know if we liked each other,” Patrick said. “We respected each other. Well, Stuart wanted my job.”

Scott was diagnosed with appendiceal cancer in 2007 and entered remission twice before he ultimately lost the battle against the disease in 2015. In the year before his passing, he was honored with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the ESPYs and gave a memorable speech that inspired the audience to stay persistent and never give up on their dreams. Patrick, who was hosting his own nationally syndicated radio program at the time, requested an interview with Scott but was turned down because he was simply not up for it. The public relations representative, however, ensured to tell Patrick that Scott wanted to remind him that he knocked him down during the basketball incident.

“Even as he’s dying, he’s still competing, and I’m like, ‘Yep, he did,’” Patrick said. “Here I am telling P.R. at ESPN, ‘Yeah, but I scored.’…. With all of the things that we maybe didn’t agree on, we agreed that we were going to compete with each other. He made me better, and I hope I made him better.”

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