Doris Burke Rumors
There was one time where he answered both of your questions by just saying ‘turnovers,’ right? Burke: Yes. We tape those during the breaks so the coaches can get back to their huddles as quickly as possible. So I asked him what I believed were two very good questions and he says ‘Turnovers. Turnovers.’ So I’m walking back to my seat and blinking back tears and my producer is in my ear, ‘You’ve got to tell me when he’s that funny.’ But I didn’t think it was funny. To the rest of America it’s entertaining and must-watch TV, but not to the person going through it. And I’m not the only one who’s scared.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is notorious for giving short, terse in-game interviews that border between funny and rude. How do you approach these interviews? Burke: I am absolutely scared to death every single time. You laugh, but I’m serious. [ESPN announcer] Mike Breen has asked me if he could say on air how much Pop actually likes me and respects me. I said he can do what he would like, but it doesn’t make those interviews easier. I don’t want to be made a fool of on TV. That’s an awful experience. And I’m not joking; I’m absolutely terrified. My heart is pounding and I’m trying to make it look like I’m not sweating. The key with Gregg is he does not want to be led in any way. So I offer no opinion. I ask the most open-ended question so Pop can give me his explanation.
Burke: Durant’s sort of caught me off guard, because usually when someone acknowledges God they then move on to the question I asked. Looking back, I regret being sort of caught off-guard, because I didn’t mean to in any way belittle his beliefs as a Christian. But I was unaware of the furor until the next day when I got off a plane in Louisville and there were messages from my bosses and ESPN PR saying we may need to think about addressing this. Was it addressed? Burke: There was an Oklahoma City columnist who basically ripped me pretty good. I basically said, ‘Listen, I’m a Christian. I’m in no way, shape or form trying to belittle Kevin Durant’s beliefs. He surprised me a little bit with his humility, frankly, and for not taking any credit for his play.’
Last January, after an Oklahoma City Thunder game, you asked Kevin Durant about his big night, and he said it was all because of God. And you kind of smiled and said ‘Didn’t you have something to do with it, too?’ That response elicited a pretty strong reaction from people who felt you were dismissing Durant a bit. What feedback did you receive? Doris Burke: That game I covered for Heather Cox, who has two young kids and had something that night and basically asked if I could replace her. It was a hectic day. To preface it, the year before in the NBA finals, I’d interviewed Danny Green after his big game, and he kept thanking God and then would answer the question. And that summer I got 10 photocopies from an anonymous man with anti-God, anti-religion sentiment. It was kind of a weird thing, but whatever.
Doris Burke is one of the best basketball players in Providence history, so yeah, of course she’s got dribbles, but note that she’s doing this *in high heels*
Burke talked at length about her relationship with Popovich in the latest Grantland podcast from Zach Lowe, “The Lowe Post,” and specifically about that exchange. “Two words. I was devastated. It was brutal. It was absolutely brutal. I was almost in tears. I go back to where I sit, and I’m trying to compose myself, because I thought I asked two pretty good questions and those were the responses I got. Literally, blinking back tears,” Burke said. So from that statement, it would be easy to think Burke isn’t the biggest Pop fan, but that’s far from the case. “As Lisa Salters calls it, we’ve all been ‘Pop’d.’ It’s never really pleasant, but we all adore him,” Burke said.
“After the NBA Finals last year, he goes out of his way — he’s walking out of American Airlines Arena. He’s just lost Game 7 after the torturous way he loses Game 6. We’ve had all those sideline interviews and I step back to let him go. I step back because I’m trying to be respectful of a man whose just lost what you pour your heart and soul into for eight or nine months of the year. And he drops his bags en route to the bus to take them home to San Antonio and proceeds to grab me by the shoulders and asks me what I’m going to do for the summer. You know he’s a huge wine aficionado … He stopped me and I told him I happened to be going near wine country and was going to spend a few days. He wouldn’t let me leave until I promised that I would contact him and he would suggest and help me to get into all these wineries. This is the kind of man he is. My kids get upset with the interviews, and I say please don’t judge Pop on those. That’s not reflect of who the man is.”
Burke knows her basketball – from all sides, at all levels. And that’s something that’s been confirmed by one of the best basketball minds in the NBA, Gregg Popovich. The famously stern and taciturn San Antonio Spurs coach once prefaced an answer to Burke’s question from her sideline reporter position by saying, “Doris, you’re a basketball person, you’ll get this.” “I have been incredibly thankful to the players and the coaches who have sort of welcomed me with opened arms and treated me as nothing other than a member of the announce team,” Burke said in a recent telephone interview.
In an e-mail to USA TODAY Sports, Simmons wrote, “I loved getting to know Magic these past 12 months and was saddened to hear about his decision. We genuinely liked working with one another. Last night Lon Rosen and I were already talking about other possible projects that Magic and I could do together down the road. He’s my friend. And a GREAT guy.” Simmons tweeted, “My first experience today with someone writing a “sources” report about me that’s not true. Part amusing, part horrifying.”
Johnson’s agent, Lon Rosen, refuted a Deadspin report that said Johnson abruptly left the show because of colleague Bill Simmons’ growing influence over the show and Michael Wilbon’s diminished role in NBA coverage, which included Doug Collins replacing Wilbon on NBA Countdown. “Magic and Bill Simmons got to be very close and continue to be close,” Rosen told USA TODAY Sports. “Bill Simmons and Earvin Johnson are friends. Earvin’s close to Bill. We called Bill before the release went out. Bill has been to parties at Earvin’s house. He’s been to Dodgers game with Bill. He likes Bill a lot.”
Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson said Thursday he is leaving his job as an NBA analyst for ESPN. Veteran broadcaster Doris Burke will join NBA Countdown in a different capacity, ESPN announced. “I don’t feel confident that I can continue to devote the time needed to thrive in my role,” Johnson said in a news release.
Doris Burke informally carries the title of Ms. Basketball at ESPN because of her many NBA and college basketball assignments. Now, the well-respected sports broadcaster has landed another basketball gig and it might be her most high profile yet: She’s joining NBA Countdown as a studio analyst. SI.com has learned that Burke will appear on the ESPN NBA pregame show on Wednesdays during the regular season. That makes Burke the first woman to serve as a regularly-appearing analyst for a national NBA studio show. (Her ESPN colleague Hannah Storm hosted NBC’s NBA pregame show from 1997-2002.) Burke will make her NBA Countdown debut on Nov. 13. Her new assignment, which she said will likely total 11 Wednesdays, is timed with her signing a multiyear contract extension with ESPN.
“There is absolutely a level of anxiety each time I have to do an end-of-quarter interview with Pop,” says Burke, who will be covering both Miami and San Antonio as a sideline reporter during ABC’s NBA Finals broadcasts. “My one thought: Don’t make him angry.”
Doris Burke: I so appreciate you saying you think well of my work. It’s not unanimous. Opinions about announcers are very subjective. I get blown up on social media all the time. “She’s ugly.” What’s a woman doing the NBA?” “She has no credibility.” It’s the nature of it. People will like you or hate you. If you allow that to bother, boy… My kids get more upset about it than I do.
Doris Burke: The worst was the first time I had to interview him for his in-game interview. Keep in mind, I have great admiration for him. Instead of just asking him a simple question, I tried to be smart. In doing so, I think the final line, the lead-in to my question was, “What was the problem with your defense?” Well, he crossed his arms, he got the scariest smile on his face I’ve ever seen, his face got a little red. I really do not have any recollection what he said. When I went back to my seat, the producer came in my ear and said, ‘Doris, do you mind if we don’t run it?’ I said, ‘Thank you for not humiliating me.’ It literally was that bad.
Doris Burke: There’s no coach in the league, including Phil Jackson when he was in the league, where I feel more angst for the (in-game interview) than Gregg Popovich. Do I go into the finals with the idea in the back of my head that seven more times at the end of the quarter I have to interview him? You bet you I do. There’s no question about it. I try very hard not to take his reactions personally. I’ll be honest with you. It is not easy.