Even in a world that craves something different and new all the time, some things regrettably rarely change. For instance if you want to hear a female voice during a major Big 4 sporting event (MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL) your best chance is a quick flash to the “sideline reporter” — a position broadcasters have been happy to surrender to women like Erin Andrews, Jamie Erdahl, and Pam Oliver while reserving the jobs of calling in-game action mostly for an all-male fraternity.
But the NBA, which in many ways has led the other major sports in innovations, has the excellent Doris Burke doing color analysis for the NBA playoffs on ABC. And it’s refreshing to hear her astute analysis, which grabs viewers’ attention not just because of her expertise and infectious enthusiasm for the game, but also because she’s different. She stands out because she sounds different than Hubie Brown, Jeff Van Gundy and the rest. Here are 12 facts about Burke that contribute to her making the NBA experience better.
- Burke led the Providence College in assists as a player, showing generosity and court sense that are critical skills for a color commentator.
- Burke has done New York Knicks games — a tough team to cover in a tough media city. She was the first woman to call a Knicks game on radio and TV in 2000.
- Yes, Burke has experience in radio, which helps her paint the pictures the way TV-only analysts sometimes have trouble doing.
- She’s in the Providence College Hall of Fame with people like former Georgetown icon John Thompson and NBA Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens. Burke’s hoops pedigree is top-tier.
- Burke does women’s games too, until recently covering the WNBA’s New York Liberty and giving her a broad perspective. Unlike many NBA announcers, she doesn’t make the NBA sound like a club she’s in. Typical NBA guys like Van Gundy, Brown, Reggie Miller and Mark Jackson always refer to the NBA as “our league.” i.e.: “he’s one of the best defenders in our league.”
- Burke has NBA Finals experience, albeit in the more traditional role as “sideline reporter.”
- In that role, she knows how to talk to sometimes surly Spurs coaching legend Gregg Popovich — an art that is hard to master.
- She is the first woman to have been a color analyst on a Big East Men’s Basketball game.
- Burke could easily jump into the other chair and carry the play-by-play chores instead of the color. That kind of versatility is rare.
- Fact: Doris Burke knows her stats cold, and can match them with the relevant moment with a sort of genius.
- Listening to her work, it sounds clear that Burke loves the game of basketball more than the league itself, which is great for fans. She’s a true purist and that allows her admiration for a team’s or a player’s accomplishments to really stand out and shine.
- She has long partnered with Dick Vitale, which means she has a good heart and knows how to share the mic!
She’s one of the all time leaders in assists at Providence, of course she’s gonna have a handle in a skirt and heels https://t.co/ArAzW2p1h3
— Pattie (@illpatic) April 10, 2016