ESPN basketball analyst Doris Burke, 46, broadcasts about 80 games a year, from men's and women's college basketball to the NBA and WNBA, from serving as a sideline reporter to a game analyst to a studio analyst. A former Providence guard and assistant basketball coach, she will broadcast Game 3 of the Thunder-Grizzlies series at 4 p.m. Saturday on ESPN with Dave Pasch and sideline reporter Ric Bucher. She also covered the decisive Game 6 of the Spurs-Grizzlies series last week for ESPN.
What level of basketball do you prefer to cover?
From the time I was 7 years old, I've played the game, I've watched the game, I've coached the game. It matters not. I played women's college basketball at Providence. The women's game means a great deal to me. It obviously means the world to me that I've seen it grow from when it was friends and family in the stands, hoping for 200 people, to Conseco Fieldhouse close to being sold out for the Final Four. ... But if it's basketball, it's for me. It matters not, who, when, where. I love the game.
Was it good for women's basketball to have someone besides UConn and Tennessee win the NCAA title?
It hurt the credibility of the sport to have those two dominating as much as they did. So the fact that Texas A&M and Notre Dame crashed the party and inevitably played for the national championship between them was extraordinary. It was an awful lot of fun.
How do you think the Grizzlies will respond after their Game 2 loss?
In Game 2, Oklahoma City responded and they played with more of an edge and more attitude and more assertiveness than Memphis did. I am very interested to see their response at home in what has become an arena that finally has caught a little bit of traction in a city that has been owned by the Memphis Tigers. What's the response back at home? This is going to be a lot of fun.
Do you enjoy covering the Thunder?
The Thunder is a fun team to watch. Obviously you have two of the brightest young superstars in the league in Russell (Westbrook) and Kevin (Durant) and I enjoy watching both of them. Kevin is such a gifted scorer and a humble man. Honestly, we're all people, and the more compelling and personable and likable your superstars are, the more interested I am. Russell is just this dynamic athlete. There are certain guys that my eyes naturally drift to when I'm watching the game, and Russell is one of those players. He is so physically dynamic and his body is so alive and active and he is covering so much ground.
Does the Thunder need another strong effort from James Harden to win?
I have done enough Thunder games in the past that the reality is they have to get out in transition and score — because there are explosive and dangerous when they do — but also have to have Harden score, and they absolutely need him to be aggressive. He, like other guys with his penetration and playmaking ability, forces your back-line defenders to be good. And when you're activating that back line of defenders, inevitably that means you're doing great things offensively.