Doris Burke is the reigning, defending, undisputed basketball expert in the game today. No NBA commentator, man or woman, offers the depth of knowledge and first-hand insight that Burke does night after night. She's articulate, witty, and most importantly, better prepared than anyone in her field.
Look no further than the first time she called a men's college basketball game for proof of her Hall-of-Fame credentials.
Doris and Gregg Burke, her now-ex-husband who was working as associate athletic director of Providence College in the mid-1990s, rushed their two-year-old son Matthew to the hospital; He'd tumbled off a bench in the family's basement and needed stitches. When the frantic couple returned home, 16 voicemails were waiting. Only one member of the Providence's men's basketball television announce team showed up.
They needed Doris Burke to fill in.
Gregg Burke explained the situation, via The Hartford Courant:
"[Doris] was a wreck. She's got blood all over her shirt. We call my parents, we're like, 'We've got to get there now.' We both shower, we bomb down there, 55 minutes before the game, she hasn't prepared for either team. She visits the Pitt people for 10 minutes, the PC people for 10 minutes and they drag her out to do the opening.
"And, she nailed it. She nailed the game. I'm not just saying that because I'm married to her, either."
The beginning of a legacy. And while the color analyst made a name for herself calling Big East Women's and Big East Men's games, the on-air sports reporter still has time to enjoy the perks of the job, like hanging out with rappers like Drake and dunking on her ex-husband live on the air.
Doris Burke's Broadcasting Career
When she was still Doris Sable, playing on the basketball team for Manasquan High School in New Jersey, our heroine opted to play college basketball for the Providence Friars. Despite her main focus at the time being "whether my jump shot would ever match my dribble-drive ability," No. 11 was damn good as a point guard. The Big East basketball player set the Big East Conference record for career assists (306; she still ranks 20th all-time and is No. 3 in school history) and was named All-Big East and All-Tournament in both her junior and senior seasons. Eventually, Burke would be inducted into the Providence College Hall of Fame.
After graduating in 1987, Burke became an assistant coach at her alma mater. Eventually, she worked her way into calling Providence women's basketball on the radio. There was an obvious learning curve, but she began to thrive and earned a seat on television broadcasts. Opportunities started to build until Burke found herself doing color commentary for the WNBA's New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden.
In 1999, she was signed by the Atlantic 10 Conference to be the primary analyst for its men's college basketball package. One year later, she became the first woman to call a New York Knicks game. Shortly after that, ESPN inked her to a long-term deal. Men's and women's NCAA Tournaments followed, as well as a full slate of NBA games throughout the winter and spring months.
The can't-miss sideline reporter has presented the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy to superstars LeBron James and Kevin Durant at the NBA Finals, paired with Dick Vitale for men's hoops coverage, earned a dinner invite from Raptors superfan Drake, and is the perfect foil to unflappable San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
Doris Burke with the best Popovich follow-up question ever. Even Pop seemed impressed. pic.twitter.com/GsPd1BIXWE
— Cork Gaines, Ph.D. (@CorkGaines) May 17, 2017
Burke took her biggest step in 2017, when she was promoted to become a full-time NBA game analyst for the 2017-18 season. The ESPN broadcaster hasn't taken her foot off the gas and entered the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as the 2018 Curt Gowdy Media Award honoree. Fellow recipients have included icons like Dick Enberg, Marv Albert, Bob Costas, Jim Nantz and Craig Sager.
Not bad company, huh?
Is Doris Burke Married?
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Doris and Gregg Burke were engaged on Valentine's Day in 1989; They married seven months later and share two children, daughter Sarah and son Matthew.
At the time they met, Gregg Burke was the sports information director at Holy Cross, his alma mater. He joined Providence College in an administrative role in 1987, founded the Academic All-America Awards Program and served as National Chairman from 1989-94, helped launch the International Basketball League, and eventually found a home at the University of Rhode Island in 2004. He's spent the last 15 years as URI's head golf coach, leading the Rams to several championship crowns over the years.
Doris and Gregg divorced around 2012. Little is known about the split, but at least their relationship seems amicable these days.
Doris even found a way to poke fun at Gregg on national television.
Doris Burke Roasts Ex-Husband Gregg Burke at Pelicans-Grizzlies Game
#ICYMI Doris Burke: ?I do like being right. Ask my ex husband.?
6 seconds of silence pic.twitter.com/aK5muhgKHC
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) August 4, 2020
During a matchup between Zion Williamson's New Orleans Pelicans and Ja Morant's Memphis Grizzlies in Orlando's coronavirus bubble, Burke correctly predicted a referee's call on Lonzo Ball at one point in the game. Turning to colleague and play-by-play announcer Mark Jones, the NBA analyst took a sneaky jab at Gregg on national TV that set social media ablaze:
"I do like being right. Ask my ex-husband."
Burke later told ESPN's Pablo Torre on ESPN Daily that it was all in good fun, and Gregg didn't seem upset in the slightest.
"I will tell you what my ex husband said: 'I have the utmost respect for Doris. She's a great broadcaster and a better mom,'" Doris Burke recalled. "And I said, 'You're a sweetheart. You could have had a little but of fun and certainly had some fun at my expense,' but he chose not to go in that direction and kudos to him."
Prepared, educated, and respected. Doris Burke isn't going anywhere any time soon, and with zingers like this, she only figures to win over more and more fans along the way as the NBA playoffs heat up.
This article was originally published on August 17, 2020, and has been updated since.
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