The Washington Wizards are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference and trying to assert their place among the league’s top teams. Regardless of how their season turns out, their TV broadcasting team has already cornered a distinction of their own as the only all-Black broadcast crew currently in the NBA.
While NBC Sports Washington announcer Chris Miller, analyst Drew Gooden, and on-court reporter Meghan McPeak are not the first all-Black NBA TV team (Charlotte’s Eric Collins, Dell Curry, and Stephanie Ready own that distinction), it’s still notable that they are, unfortunately, a rarity amongst the 30 NBA franchises and their local network partners.
Ava Wallace spoke with the broadcasters for a Washington Post piece about what it took for all the pieces to come together and what it means to them.
Miller, who has found success in the predominantly white field of play-by-play announcers, has actually become the first Black person to call games across Washington D.C.’s NHL, NBA, and MLB teams. Miller was excited to learn that fact but also wanted to be clear that he tries not to think in those terms.
“I don’t think it’s like the end-all, be-all of what we do. I don’t ever think like, hey, I’m a Black play-by-play announcer in the NBA, I just don’t think about that,” said Miller. “I think of, I’ve been in this industry for 26 years. I got my break, my dream job in year 16 covering a team that I have put my heart and soul into.”
While he told WaPo that he doesn’t think in terms of how the Wizards broadcast team is groundbreaking, he does see what they represent.
“We’re not the first [all-Black crew], we’re just the next,” Miller said. “Which means, hopefully, more of us will follow.”
— Chris Miller ??? (@cmillsnbcs) November 23, 2022
Gooden also said that he expects the voices behind the mics during NBA games to continue to diversify in the years ahead.
“Once you get behind that mic, those jobs are solidified in stone for 20, 30, 40 years, some of these jobs. So when do you actually get a shot? No matter who you are,” Gooden said. “Now you’re starting to see guys retire, and other people are starting to get a chance. So I don’t think [White male play-by-play announcers] are going to be the norm going forward. I think it’s going to be the best man for the job, it’s going to be current, it’s going to be based on what people want to hear. And it’s going to be innovative.”
For McPeak, who became one of the first women to do play-by-play when she called a preseason Wizards game on the Monumental Sports Network in 2018, it’s not rocket science.
“It’s basketball. We are not trying to do rocket science or brain surgery, we want viewers to have fun,” she told WaPo. “That’s my No. 1 goal every game — did I have fun? Chris and Drew, they make it easy to do that while I’m doing my due diligence in telling the stories of these players.”