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The Hardest-Working Girl in Sports

Lisa Guerrero, of Fox Sports Net, will debate all comers on zone defense versus man-to-man, while puffing on her favorite cigar.
Joel Drucker
From the Print Edition:
Cuban Models, May/June 03

(continued from page 2)

Guerrero typically smokes cigars at parties and holidays and on other occasions when she can, as she puts it, "go out, cut loose," such as after a dessert of chocolate soufflé. Recently, she enjoyed a cigar while barhopping with some friends during a bachelorette party in Las Vegas.

Looking back, Guerrero believes that her initiation into the world of cigars during the '97 holiday season augured good things to come. Soon thereafter, on the same day as the Christmas party, she was offered jobs as the first female sports reporter on local TV station KCBS and a lead role on Aaron Spelling's daytime soap opera, "Sunset Beach." Weekdays, Guerrero was taping a daily one-hour show, playing the evil vixen Francesca Vargas. At night, she would memorize 40 pages of the script, all the while mixing in reading and following sports so she could be ready for weekend interviews and, once a week, a late evening report.

"There I was, being made up at 7 a.m. and reading the sports page," says Guerrero. "It was great, but ridiculous. It was a happy time professionally, but hard for my life."

Her national breakthrough came in February 1999. Naturally, it was a wacky blurring of sports and entertainment. Dennis Rodman -- himself an odd mélange of athletic substance and pop-culture panache -- had called a news conference to update the world on his thinking about joining the Los Angeles Lakers. Time was when these events were held at subdued venues such as Manhattan's P.J. Clarke's or a nondescript hotel. That was then. This was Planet Hollywood, which, like Rodman, was an effort at opportunistically yoking disparate elements, in this case food and fame. Naturally the news conference was nationally televised on ESPN.

Arriving 45 minutes late, Rodman mumbled a statement about how he didn't want to be selfish or a distraction. From the back row, Guerrero, wearing an all-pink outfit, declared, "You're already a distraction. You're rude. You're the most selfish person I've ever seen."

For 10 seconds, dead silence.

Rodman then glared down at Guerrero, telling her all about his success as a rebounder, flaunting championship rings. Then he started crying -- and stormed out.

All eyes turned towards Guerrero.

"People are wondering who I am," says Guerrero. "They figure I'm with ëEntertainment Tonight.'" Over the next two days, Guerrero was interviewed 15 times.

"Did it help to look like I do?" she asks. "Of course. I'm no hypocrite. But I had to prove I wasn't just eye candy. You could put a model out there, but could she argue man-to-man versus zone with Michael Irvin?"

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