In accepting the Curt Gowdy Media Award on Thursday, Doris Burke made a point of thanking players and coaches including LeBron James and Steve Kerr for encouraging her on the road to becoming a highly respected NBA analyst.
Burke accepted the award during an evening ceremony at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. She was honored, along with photographer Andy Bernstein, for making a “significant contribution to the game of basketball.”
“To the players and the coaches of the NBA — Rick Carlisle, LeBron James, Steve Kerr, Chris Paul, and many many others,” Burke said, “your private words of support to me, and your public statements of support of my work, went far beyond what you could imagine. And the confidence that I had to do the job ESPN has given me.”
An analyst for ESPN since 1991, Burke was named a full-time NBA game analyst last season, becoming the first woman to hold that role. She also worked for years on men’s and women’s college basketball and WNBA games.
“My assignments at ESPN are now exclusively NBA related, and I guarantee you everybody in this building knows that under the leadership of David Stern and Adam Silver, the NBA is the single most inclusive, open-minded, progressive sports league in the country,” Burke said. “And both men’s support of me speaks volumes.”
Burke thanked past Big East commissioners Mike Tranghese and Dave Gavitt for the opportunity to call men’s and women’s games.
“That time was absolutely critical to my development,” she said.
The chance to broadcast WNBA games when the league launched in 1997 also was a pivotal point in her career, Burke said.
“The WNBA changed the equation for a young female broadcaster who wanted nothing more than to remain close to the game, and call basketball games,” she said. “And my subsequent association with Madison Square Garden Network, then the very vanguard of regional sports cable networks, that afforded me my first opportunity to call professional basketball.”
Previous recipients of the Curt Gowdy Media Award include Craig Sager, David Aldridge and ESPN’s Jay Bilas and Jackie MacMullan.
Bernstein has been a photographer for 35 years and has served as the official photographer for Los Angeles-based franchises, including the Lakers and Clippers. He also photographed the U.S. men’s basketball “Dream Team” in 1992 as well as the 1996 and 2000 squads.