Stephanie Ready won’t be the first female analyst to work NBA games. Ann Meyers, Nancy Lieberman, and Ready have all worked occasionally on the local level, while Doris Burke routinely works nationally televised games for ESPN.
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FOX Sports Southeast, entering its eighth year as the Charlotte Hornets regional television partner, announced today it will have a three-person telecast team for the Hornets upcoming 2015-16 regular season. Broadcasting veteran Eric Collins joins the FOX Sports Southeast telecast team as the new Hornets play-by-play announcer. He will be partnered with Stephanie Ready, who will become the first full-time female NBA game analyst and former Hornets standout Dell Curry, who returns to FOX Sports Southeast as a game analyst.
"This is actually the reason I got into television in the first place. I always wanted to be a game analyst. I have a passion for the game of basketball and being a coach you teach the game and you learn how to explain the game to people who may not understand it. I thought being a game analyst on television would be perfect, because that's what you get to do."
This is not only important news because Ready is a woman. This is important news for those in North Carolina who watch the Hornets, and those of us with League Pass that tune into Hornet games. Because Stephanie Ready is really, really good.
So is Dell Curry, the 16-year NBA pro and incumbent game analyst, and new play-by-play man Eric Collins, who is also a former sideline reporter. With Ready as sideline reporter and Curry behind the mic in previous incarnations, the Hornets broadcast team was often the most entertaining part of an otherwise dreary Charlotte Bobcat or Hornet contest, so it only makes sense to give Ready more on-air time.
This is a landmark move. Girls and young women that watch NBA games need to know that they don’t have to have worked as a scoring small forward and team favorite for a dozen NBA seasons to have earned the chance to call NBA contests. For Ready to have a full-time designation is important, and there will be an impact, but at this point in the game it also just seems like The Right Thing To Do.
It is 2015, and we’ll have both Becky Hammon and Nancy Lieberman working as assistant coaches on NBA benches this year, with Hammon likely to act as a sought-after head coaching candidate in a few years (after some other team picks the longer tenured Spur assistant Ime Udoka first, of course, as Gregg Popovich moves on to find his next young basketball genius). One shouldn’t discount this move’s significance, but hiring Stephanie Ready to join a three-person booth feels as natural as thinking, “hmm, Eric Collins has paid his dues and he calls a good game. Let’s hire him.”
This is a long way of saying that those of us deep within NBA circles are applauding this just as much for its groundbreaking turn as we are the chance to hear Stephanie Ready talk about basketball more.
Mainly because, as stated above, Ready has already called scads of Bobcat and Hornets games over the last few years, and she dove into broadcasts from her sideline reporter role far, far more than any local or national sideline reporter that I can think of. Her additions didn’t feel like shoehorning, she was adept and quick with her analysis from around the Bobcat and Hornet bench, and the rhythm never felt as ruptured as it is when, say, the air is turned over to a sideline reporter discussing an in-game medical diagnosis.
To have that sort of chemistry from 45 feet away from the broadcast team, working through earpieces, was impressive. Now she’ll be at the table full time; telling us why, exactly, the Hornets can’t shoot.
And it just feels so natural. And another reason to wish the season would get here sooner.
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