Phoenix Suns vice president and Phoenix Mercury president Ann Meyers Drysdale isn't the first woman to take to a color commentator's gig for a men's pro basketball team. Doris Burke has held that role — exceptionally well, we should add — since the 2007-08 season for ABC/ESPN. And Paul Coro at the Arizona Republic reminds us that Meyers Drysdale also held the same position briefly as a member of the Indiana Pacers' radio and TV crew during stints within the 1979-80 season.
A season that, you might recall, came a few months after Meyers Drysdale was drafted by the Pacers; becoming the first and only woman to be drafted by an NBA team in the process. After being cut late in training camp, Meyers Drysdale covered six games for the franchise. Over three decades later, after a distinguished international, team executive, and television sports career, she's heading back behind the microphone to cover the Suns for the two local affiliates. It will be Ann's first time covering men's pro basketball since her run covering James Edwards' finest moments of letting someone else get that rebound; and if her initial comments are any indication, we are very much looking forward to her work.
"I have never been a we-us guy," Meyers Drysdale said of her executive-broadcaster role. "I learned from Vin Scully, Al Michaels and Dick Enberg. When I got to Phoenix, it was the first time that I said 'we' and 'us.' Even at the Olympics, we're taught not to say USA. I'm a professional and if the game's not going well, you call it. I'm not going to shy away from things. If we're not playing good defense, I'm going to say it."
The broadcast team changes go along with the team's makeover that sent away co-captains Steve Nash and Grant Hill and brought in seven new players.
"Channing (Frye) can step up," Meyers Drysdale said. "We'll see what (Marcin) Gortat is made of. (Luis) Scola will help and we'll see how Goran (Dragic) grows. I'm excited about Kendall's (Marshall) talents and how Michael Beasley will come along."
Yeah, you'll have to admit that's pretty badass.
Whether it's some recently retired NBA power forward or sporting legend who was already a pioneer in the field of women's athletics decades before taking on this role, to hear a team employee call particular players out months before the season starts and complain about saying twaddle like "we have to move the ball" is music to this League Pass junkie's ears.
Meyers Drysdale won't be the Suns' lead analyst — the very good Eddie Johnson will rightfully retain that role — but she will act as backup for 20 games in 2012-13. Though the national audience won't pay much attention to this story, not with Steve Nash and Grant Hill playing elsewhere and the Suns obviously (if not altogether strikingly) rebuilding, League Pass nutters like you and I and anyone else that is reading an NBA blog on Aug. 30 won't be able to help but give her a more strident listen.
It's what comes from standing out. And among the drudgery of a 23-week regular season featuring only five or six teams with legitimate championship potential playing out of 30 squads, we appreciate anyone and anything standing out.
And, most importantly, we'll appreciate the insight that someone like Ann Meyers Drysdale can give us, as we strive to learn more and more about the game we dig.
As has been the case since June, October can't get here soon enough. We Us Everyone's looking forward to it, Phoenix.
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