During All-Star Weekend, players and fans got a chance to see Nik Stauskas’ broadcasting skills on Snapchat and Canada’s The Sports Network. It was his second straight All-Star experience covering the action, after interviewing NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts last year in Toronto.
Not only is the 76ers shooting guard growing in the broadcast booth—including through a regular podcast he hosts in Philadelphia—but he also represents his native country in the community. It’s his year-round charity work with the Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and Ontario Lung Association that takes up most of his time, motivated by seeing his grandmother fight through health problems.
After playing the Knicks last weekend, the 23-year-old spoke with the NBPA about his on-air and outreach initiatives.
NBPA: What was your broadcasting experience like with The Sports Network (TSN) during All-Star Weekend?
Nik Stauskas: My interviews were more casual with the players. A lot of my work was on Snapchat, so it’s quicker 10-second snaps of me just kind of joking around with players. But then I did a lot of work on a [TSN] panel doing analysis of the All-Star Game, and analysis of the Saturday night competitions.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) February 18, 2017
NBPA: What was your favorite snap moment?
NS: I was on Snapchat with Gordon Hayward and we were both on the screen, and then I realized that we looked the exact same. We had the same hair, same beard, we were both kind of pale, and I was, like, “Are you copying me or am I copying you? Which one is it?” And he was, like, “Well, I’m the All-Star, so I think you’re copying me.” So I was, like, “Alright, you got it. Sounds good.”
NBPA: Do you think that you would want to pursue sports broadcasting in the future?
NS: Perhaps, yeah. I think right now it’s something that’s fun. It’s something that I’m learning about. It’s something that is cool and new to me. If I can keep that alive and keep that door open for a possibility later, then that’s something I think would be a good idea.
NBPA: What kind of new flavor do you think you would bring to the field?
NS: I’m just myself out there. I’m really laid back. I like to have fun with it. I’m never too serious. But maybe later on I’ll have to be a little bit more serious. I think I get away with it right now because I’m a player. So I can kind of joke around and be nonchalant.
NBPA: You recently did your “Sauce & Co.” podcast where you interviewed your teammate T.J. McConnell. Can you tell us more about your friendship?
NS: It was strange—we hit it off ever since we met at training camp last year and just kind of became best friends. And just the little things like having him on my podcast, hanging out after practice, after games, and what not, we just get each other. We’re just on the same page.
NBPA: T.J. has been having a great season so far and he has two game-winning shots. What has it been like to see him do so well?
NS: It’s been really cool to see T.J. evolve the way he has over the last two years. He’s probably one of the funniest kids I’ve ever met and also one of the hardest working. So to see the humility that he has and then to see all the hard work pay off, and for him to finally be noticed on the big stage, it’s really cool and I’m proud of him.
— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) January 11, 2017
NBPA: So being that you’re a really big fan of Friends, what characters on the show mimic you and T.J.?
NS: Oh, man. See, I’m a huge fan of Ross. Ross is probably my favorite character and me and T.J. always joke about it. There’s this one episode where Ross gets really upset because one of the professors steals his sandwich and he’s freaking out about it. He goes to the doctor and gets prescribed Xanax or something like that, some stress relief medication.
I joke with T.J. that he has anger issues sometimes, like he can get really furious [on the court]. So Ross has this line in the show where he finds out Chandler is dating Monica—they’re like a thing. And he’s, like, “This is not good for my rage.” So in games whenever T.J. is upset, I always say that line from Friends. Like if he misses a shot, I’ll always say that line just because it’s funny.
NBPA: Do you two have a handshake?
NS: We do have a handshake, but it’s very secret. I don’t know if I can tell you about that.
NBPA: Oh, I can’t know about it?
NS: Maybe if you’re lucky enough you’ll see it out on the court every once in a while. But we like to keep it for special moments.
NBPA: So switching gears a bit. You’re a spokesperson for two charities: the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Why was it important for you to get involved with these two organizations?
NS: With the heart and stroke, and IPF [idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis], my grandmother, [Irene], suffered from them. My grandmother had a stroke a couple years back, and then seven or eight years ago she was diagnosed with IPF. And so when I got drafted to the NBA, I just had an opportunity to raise awareness, especially for IPF [through the “Kiss IPF Goodbye” campaign that educates and raises awareness about the disease]. A lot of people know about the heart and stroke, but not a lot of people know about IPF and the disease that it is—what people go through with it.
So I just try to use my platform as an opportunity to raise money, raise awareness, and we had some really cool tours that we did around Canada—just to spread the word. I’m already starting to make a few plans this summer with IPF again, so I would just like to keep that going. [Stauskas is also an ambassador for the Ontario Lung Association, advocating for lung disease and research.]
NBPA: What was it like for your grandmother after her IPF diagnosis?
NS: She unfortunately passed away a couple months ago. Most people when they get diagnosed with IPF, their timeline is 2-3 years. She had made it five or six years, so she had outlived the diagnosis. And she had dealt with a stroke, so half her body was completely paralyzed. For the condition that she was in, she lasted a very long time. It wasn’t a surprise when she passed away. We knew that it was coming, so she lived a long good life. We’re happy for her.
NBPA: So we have talked about your broadcasting and charity work. What else can fans expect from you in the coming year?
NS: Right now, I’m focused on the season, focused on finishing strong. Obviously I’d love if we could make a playoff push. It would be tough for us to do it, but if we get hot, anything’s possible. If the playoffs don’t work out, I’ll probably be working with TSN, covering the Raptors in the playoffs. That’ll be something fun. I did that last year as well.
And then the summer, I’ll be busy just working on my game, trying to get my game to the next level coming into next year. It’ll be my fourth year, so I’m always striving to get a little bit better, add a few things to my game. And I have a few things I’m starting to plan with IPF and the Heart and Stroke Foundation this summer. I could be a little bit busy towards the end of August with a few of those things.