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The NBA Finals Create a Unique Dilemma for Top ESPN Analyst

  • JJ Redick and Doris Burke are ESPN’s new lead analysts.
  • The former NBA player has been linked to some coaching jobs.
JJ Redick
Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images

On the court, the NBA Finals are set to be a crowning achievement for one of the league’s two best players in Mavericks star Luka Dončić or Celtics frontman Jayson Tatum. But the series also represents a pinnacle for two people on the sideline: lead ESPN game analysts JJ Redick and Doris Burke. 

The duo are calling their first NBA championship series as No. 1 TV color commentators. Burke has been in ESPN’s top booth alongside play-by-play man Mike Breen all season, while Redick joined in February, getting the call-up from Bristol power brokers after Doc Rivers left to coach the Bucks. 

It’s the latest accomplishment for Redick, who has become one of the fastest-rising stars in sports media since retiring in 2021 after 15 seasons in the league. Redick makes regular appearances across ESPN’s studio shows and is the founder of ThreeFourTwo Productions, which has backed several athlete-hosted podcasts, including his own. The Old Man and the Three with Tommy Alter has been running since ’20, and this spring Redick launched Mind the Game with LeBron James.

So, given his success already, where does calling the NBA Finals rank? Front Office Sports asked Redick during a preview call for the series. “This is absolutely the apex of calling NBA games,” he said. “Once I started calling games, it was always the goal. It happened a little faster than I thought it would.”

Hello … Goodbye?

Now, the irony is that Redick himself has been linked to head coaching vacancies across the NBA. In April, he reportedly interviewed for the Hornets job. The team eventually hired former Celtics assistant Charles Lee. More recently, Redick has been widely linked to being a strong contender for the Lakers’ head coach opening. Even reporters from his own network, ESPN, have talked about the possibility. Redick hasn’t refuted any of the reports, but he wouldn’t comment on a potential future in coaching during ESPN’s NBA Finals call.

Like many retired athletes, Redick may miss the thrill of competition. But is fulfilling that urge worth giving up much of what he has accomplished off the court early into his post-playing career? “I am a fan of this sport,” he said. “And I think about watching Finals when I was growing up, watching Finals when I played, playing in the NBA Finals in 2009, and these are just, like, iconic moments, and I get to be a part of this. I get to be a part of documenting history.”

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