The most popular woman at ESPN is not going anywhere.
ESPN announced Monday that it has reached a multi-year extension with NBA analyst/reporter Doris Burke, who has contributed to the network since 1991. Under her new deal, Burke will continue to serve as a regular NBA game analyst, a role she debuted in this past season, while also working the sidelines for ESPN’s NBA conference finals and finals coverage.
“It is hard to put into words how grateful I am to continue my career with ESPN,” Burke said in a release. “I’ve loved basketball my entire life and to be able to cover this sport is a privilege that I don’t take for granted. My love for the game, and for my colleagues, both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes, make this job such a rewarding experience every day.”
Added ESPN executive vice president Connor Schell: “Doris is exceptional at what she does. Her ability, knowledge, passion and versatility are virtually unmatched and it’s evident every time she calls a game. She is dedicated to documenting the sport for the fans in the most prepared and informed manner possible. Our NBA coverage is better because of Doris and we’re thrilled that she’ll be with us for a long time to come.”
Burke, 52, had previously expressed some concern about her contract status at ESPN, perhaps related to her observation that women on television are often held to standards of appearance that men are not.
In the end, however, ESPN was not going to let go of “the LeBron James of sportscasters,” especially not if doing so would allow her to wind up at a rival network such as Turner Sports. Burke has been a staple of ESPN’s NBA coverage for years and seems to grow only more popular the longer she is on air. Given how her role has expanded over the years, it’s not crazy to assume she’s next in line for a game-analyst role on ESPN’s top NBA broadcast team, which could become open if Jeff Van Gundy and/or Mark Jackson takes another head coaching job.
Burke has said she hopes to remain on television until she is 60. With Monday’s news, it seems likely that ESPN will be happy to have her at least that long.