by Sullivan Burgess ’20
On Feb. 17, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced that former Friar and ESPN NBA analyst Doris Burke ’87 would receive the 2018 Curt Gowdy Media Award.
The award is named after American sportscaster Curt Gowdy, who served as the president of the Basketball Hall of Fame for seven consecutive years. The award is usually awarded to most outstanding basketball writers and broadcasters for all media outlets.
Past winners include Craig Sager, Jay Bilas, Dick Vitale, Marv Albert, and Jim Nantz. Burke sets a great example for newcomers trying to find their way in the world of analyzing basketball.
When she played for the Providence College Women’s Basketball Team for four years, Burke led in assists during three of her four seasons and was a three-time All-Big East selection. She ranks second in all-time assists in PC history with 602 in 113 career games.
She is not only a member of the Providence College Athletic Hall of Fame, with a newly retired number in Mullaney Gym, but she is also a member of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.
Last year, for the first time in school history, Burke served as Master of Ceremonies for the annual PC Late Night Madness. It was a high honor to be brought back at the beginning of this year for Madness to hype up the students. She also had the opportunity to talk to Coach Cooley and Coach Crowley, as well as their respective players.
Burke’s media career began as radio analyst for PC until she eventually moved to the WNBA and began reporting for the New York Liberty. She made a name for herself and was finally hired by ESPN. She served as a sideline reporter and analyst for ESPN since 1991, Burke made headlines by being named a full-time NBA game analyst. This made her the first woman in the history of the channel to hold that role.
Burke has even appeared in the NBA 2K videogames in recent years as a sideline reporter and commentator. When discussing her career after receiving news of her nomination, she stated, “I fell into this. I thought I would be a high school teacher and coach, I started my career as an assistant basketball coach and wanted to have children and be a stay-at-home mom. I thought, Division I coaching and being a mom is sort of mutually exclusive, so I happened into the business… To be honest with you, when I was a kid, and even through college, public speaking terrified me. It still terrifies me. When I am on the air, I never think of it as, ‘Oh, millions of people could actually be watching this basketball game.’ Because if I ever thought of it in that context, I would freak out.”
While she might be nervous on screen, we certainly have never been able to notice, as Burke climbs the rankings to be one of the most popular NBA analysts of all time. As this is her first season serving as a full-time commentator for ESPN, time will only tell what else in store for Burke.