Fox Sports Oklahoma “Thunder Live” studio analyst Stephen Howard put together a 15-year pro basketball career, including one season with the Seattle SuperSonics, through hard work and determination.
It has enabled him to appreciate the hard work the Thunder has exhibited in compiling one of the NBA's best records.
“I'm really lucky and fortunate to cover a team that gives you a great product,” Howard said. “Since I've played in the NBA and seen the NBA, what these guys are doing is not this easy. They make it look easy, but man, it's not this easy.”
Howard, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward, had a reserve role in four NBA seasons, then played 11 seasons with teams overseas. His basketball career started at a small Dallas private high school (Bishop Lynch), and he contributed to some good teams at DePaul University, where he was an Academic All-American.
His NBA career highlights included playing for the 1996-97 Utah Jazz, which lost to the Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals, and the 1997-98 SuperSonics, who won 61 games. That Sonics team, coached by George Karl with star forward Vin Baker and guard Gary Payton, was eliminated by the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals. The Sonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder in 2008.
“I had a 15 year career of one-year contracts,” Howard said. “Pretty much every year, I had to make another team. I was fortunate to play for coaches like (Jazz coach) Jerry Sloan, who really appreciated players that came in and put in the work.”
His new job as a studio host for Thunder telecasts is his first work as an NBA broadcaster. He has considerable college basketball experience, including five years as an ESPN game analyst, and has been a studio host for ESPN's Buzzer Beater, a channel similar to the NFL Red Zone. He also has done studio work for the Longhorn Network and called games for the Big 12 Network. He will be in Norman on Saturday to broadcast the Texas A&M-OU game on KOCB-34, and also has called several OSU games.
In contrast to the Thunder, OU and OSU have suffered through mediocre seasons, but Howard expects to see improvement in those two programs next season.
“I think (OU coach) Lon Kruger has done a tremendous job,” he said. “You can already see his imprint on the Sooners as far as the way they play hard, really the way he has brought them along offensively.
“You look at what (OSU coach) Travis Ford has been able to do with a roster that at times has had just six or seven scholarship players. At one point he was in the running at possibly making an NCAA Tournament appearance. I think he has done a tremendous job. And then you look at the players he has coming, including Flower Mound's Marcus Smart. You can tell that next year is going to be a really good year for Oklahoma State.”
In the offseason, Howard, 41, said he enjoys making motivational speeches, including in front of youth and corporate groups.