Doris Burke Rumors
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.