In a career that has seen its share of trailblazing assignments, Doris Burke is about to add another first to her resume.
This week ESPN will announce that Burke will become a regular ESPN NBA game analyst. She will serve as an analyst for ESPN regular-season NBA telecasts as well as the NBA playoffs, making her the first woman at the national level to be assigned a full season rotation of games as an NBA game analyst. Over the last couple of years Burke has worked selected NBA games as a color commentator but now gets cemented as a regular. Burke said she will keep her role as lead ESPN NBA sideline reporter for the NBA Conference Finals and NBA Finals.
"When Doug Collins made the decision to leave the network and join the Chicago Bulls' organization, it opened up an opportunity to be more involved in our coverage as a game analyst," Burke said Monday. "To have an opportunity to be more involved with one of the most important properties at ESPN is an honor."
The news on Burke comes at a time where we are seeing other women morphing into the analyst's seat on NBA broadcasts. In 2015 Stephanie Ready became the first full time NBA game analyst as a member of FOX Sports Southeast's Charlotte Hornets coverage. Ann Meyers Drysdale has worked for a number of years as part of the Phoenix Suns television broadcast team. In a broadcasting first, the YES Network announced last week that Sarah Kustok would serve as the Nets' full-time color commentator, making her the only woman handling the analyst duties solo for an NBA team. In the 1990s Cheryl Miller often rotated as an analyst for Turner's NBA game coverage in addition to sideline work.
"The NBA, and more importantly, the entire sport of basketball, has always been an inclusive environment," Burke said. "To me, whether we are talking about the players, coaches, team management or anyone involved with the sport, it is about your game so to speak. Do you have the work habits and skills to be successful? I believe if the players and coaches respect my viewpoint of the game, then fans will as well. And full credit there goes to the NBA and to ESPN. They are willing to put people like me in a position to do this. It's pretty cool to have a greater role and the chance to continue to cover a sport that I love with the best players and coaches in the world."