Talaya Gaines on Bringing Sports Betting to MSG Networks | Muse by Clio

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I’m a Westchester-born, Beacon City School raised, Brooklyn-bred New Yorker. I’m from the intersection of instability meeting opportunity. I was birthed by two high school sweethearts who probably had no business bringing me into this world and contemplated their constitutional right (Roe v. Wade) on more than one occasion. My childhood was … unconventional.

Grand Central Station was my playground while my parents worked opposite MTA shifts as conductors to support me. I grew up going to Yankee Stadium with my uncle and cousins in the summers, spent winters ice skating at Rockefeller Center, attended concerts and cheered on my beloved Knicks at Madison Square Garden. As one can imagine, working at MSG now is a full-circle moment.

I currently reside in Brooklyn.

Your earliest sports memory.

I picked up the rock and fell in love with the game at seven years old after my grandmother entered me into a YMCA league. Basketball would become the vehicle I used to navigate every stage of my life: junior high, high school, AAU, Division-l Women’s Hoops at Siena College, YMCA intramural leagues, ESPN and now MSG Networks.

Your favorite sports teams.

Knicks, Giants, Yankees—New York through and through.

Your favorite athlete.

My favorite athletes are a few former Knicks: Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Carmelo Anthony and Jamal Crawford. As a guard, I admired Jamal’s handles and streetball flare when he unleashed in transition. I used to practice Carmelo’s combinations, hesi-moves and pull-up game. John Starks could do no wrong after that baseline dunk over Jordan. And I still want to hug Ewing after the finger-roll game.

Your favorite sports show or podcast.

Some of our recent MSG Networks original programming. One of my favorites includes a feature we did on Dyckman Park, one of the premier streetball destinations in New York City. I also loved our recent Black History Month programming, which highlighted influential Black trailblazers and local businesses across New York City. And our new sports betting shows—The Betting Exchange, The Bettor Half Hour and Odds with Ends. Some of my favorites from my time at ESPN include His & Hers, NBA Countdown, SportsCenter SC6, Get Up and First Take.

Your favorite sports movie.

Love & Basketball. Every hooper I knew wanted to be the real-life Sanaa Lathan.

He Got Game. Who doesn’t love Jesus Shuttlesworth?

A recent project you’re proud of.

My first assignment after I accepted this role was to quickly get three studio sports betting shows on the air. No pressure, right? With the end goal in mind to become the mecca of sports betting content, we wanted to strategically be positioned before the legalization in New York. The mission was accomplished after successfully premiering The Bettor Half Hour, The Betting Exchange and Odds with Ends in the fall. To have the freedom to build out each show from the ground up was amazing. We handpicked or vetted every forward-facing talent and production staff member, and I couldn’t have asked for a better team to help build this foundation. Each show delivers sports betting content in a fun and informative way, which our viewers seem to be enjoying.
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