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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Doris Burke Poised To Be First Woman To Call Men’s Championship

  • Burke would join Mike Breen and Doc Rivers on ESPN’s No. 1 broadcast team.
  • Mark Jackson could accept demotion to second team or leave the network.
Doris Burke of ESPN
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Doris Burke is poised to make history as the first woman to call a major U.S. men’s championship on TV.

Burke is expected to join ESPN/ABC’s No. 1 NBA broadcast team, along with play-by-play announcer Mike Breen and ex-Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers, sources told Front Office Sports.

The deal is not finalized, said sources. But the formation of ESPN/ABC’s revamped No. 1 team is about 80% done, they added.

Back in 2020, Burke made history by becoming the first female analyst to call the NBA Finals on ESPN Radio. 

As the new No. 1 analysts for the 2023-2024 season, she and Rivers would succeed Jeff Van Gundy, who was laid off last month, and Mark Jackson, who could drop down to a No. 2 announce team or leave ESPN. Other ESPN talents such as Mark Jones, J.J. Redick, and Richard Jefferson will call games next season.

The historic move will surely set off howls among ESPN critics who consider the network too “woke” and progressive regarding women and social justice causes.

ESPN also plans to test an all-women “SportsCenter,” created entirely by female anchors and producers.

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The New York Post first reported ESPN was closing in on promoting Burke to the NBA Finals, hiring Rivers to join her and Breen and jettisoning Jackson to the B team or off the network. 

Several weeks ago, Boston Globe columnist Chad Finn tweeted “there’s a good chance” the No. 1 team would be Burke-Rivers-Breen. Front Office Sports also predicted Burke would be promoted to the A team last month.

Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN and Warner Bros. Discovery Sports’ TNT are poised to begin billion-dollar negotiations to retain their NBA broadcast rights. Burke told FOS she was “pulling like hell” for ESPN to retain its NBA deal.

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