Doris Burke and Doc Rivers named to ESPN and ABC’s top NBA crew

Doris Burke will become the first woman to serve as a game analyst on television for a championship final in one of the four major professional U.S. sports leagues.

ESPN announced Monday that Burke and Doc Rivers will join Mike Breen on ESPN and ABC’s top NBA broadcast crew.

“People will say, ‘Well, this is a trailblazing move.’ You’re absolutely right. But the only way that any trailblazer is successful, whether it’s an African American or a woman or anyone it’s based on the results and their performance. Doris Burke’s performance and results are unprecedented and unmatched in this industry,” said David Roberts, ESPN’s head of studio and event production.

Burke, who joined ESPN in 1990, has been an analyst on the network’s NBA games since 2017. She called the past four finals on ESPN Radio after being a sideline reporter for ABC’s coverage of the finals from 2009-19.

Rivers, who was fired as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in May, called games on ESPN during the 2003-04 season as well as the 2004 finals on ABC.

“Doc and Doris are close friends, and they have a mutual respect for one another, both professionally and personally,” Roberts said. “With Doc Rivers, you have someone who’s fresh off the bench and he has done this job before. But more importantly, he has the type of insight that’s necessary as we talked about the relevancy and currency, the NBA going into the next season and beyond.”

Burke and Rivers replace Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, who were laid off as part of job cuts by the network. Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson called 15 finals together.

Roberts said the financial ramifications from the layoffs were separate from the decision-making process of building a new team, even though it is the job cuts that precipitated the changes.

The naming of the new top crew wasn’t the only NBA moves announced Monday by the network. Former Golden State Warriors GM and President of Basketball Operations Bob Myers will become a studio analyst as well as call some games. Myers is a two-time NBA Executive of the Year who led the Warriors to four titles.

Myers hosted a podcast earlier this year on ESPN called “Lead by Example,” in which he sat down with leaders from sports, business, politics and entertainment to discuss their experiences.

Roberts said he doesn’t expect Myers to be reserved or careful in his assessments of players, coaches and executives throughout the league.

“He’s got to be his authentic self. That’s all I will expect, and that’s all he expects, I don’t think we have to worry about that,” Roberts said.

Malika Andrews will host all of ESPN and ABC’s “NBA Countdown” pregame shows. She also will continue to host the daily “NBA Today” show.

Ryan Ruocco, JJ Redick and Richard Jefferson will call the “NBA Sunday Showcase” games on ABC. It is the first time ESPN has named a core second team for its NBA games.

Reddick and Jefferson called games together last season.

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