In the latest bit of barrier busting in TV sports, ESPN said Tuesday it is promoting Doris Burke from NBA sideline reporter to full-time pro basketball game analyst during the regular season and early playoffs.
Burke will work the sidelines for ESPN’s conference championship finals coverage and the NBA Finals on ABC, but this is the first time a woman has been assigned a full load of NBA games for a national outlet.
“Simply put, Doris Burke is one of the best commentators in sports,” Tim Corrigan, ESPN’s NBA senior coordinating producer, said in making the announcement. “She’s incredibly accomplished, respected and admired, and for good reason. Her work-ethic and her passion for the NBA are second-to-none, she’s a great colleague and she makes our coverage better.”
A former basketball star and assistant coach for Providence College, Burke has been covering college and pro basketball more than 25 years and part of ESPN’s NBA team since 2003. In 2000, she was the first woman to call a New York Knicks radio and television broadcast. She has worked occasional NBA games as an analyst for ESPN in recent seasons.
“Doris has spent a lifetime in basketball, and now, she’ll be able to share all of her knowledge, from the booth, with NBA fans on a regular basis,” Corrigan said.
Burke’s promotion comes the same month Beth Mowins, calling games for ESPN and CBS, became the first woman in almost 30 years to handle NFL play-by-play announcer on a national telecast and the first ever to work more than one game in that role.
Also this month, Lisa Byington, calling Bowling Green vs. Northwestern, made her debut as the Big Ten Network’s first female football play-by-play announcer and YES Network named former DePaul basketball captain and assistant coach Sarah Kustok, a Chicago media alumna, its lead analyst for Brooklyn Nets NBA telecasts after several years as a sideline reporter.
Former Chicagoan Leandra Reilly Lardner was the first woman to call play-by-play of an NBA game, working a Nets-Sixers game on Valentine’s Day in 1988 for SportsChannel New York.
Fox Sports Southeast made Stephanie Ready the first full-time female NBA game analyst in 2015, assigning her a full slate of Charlotte Hornets games.