This post is going to feel like it’s picking on Bill Simmons for a throwaway line he wrote about a decade ago, and I guess that might be true to an extent, but it more properly functions as a testament to how excellent Doris Burke has been at her job in the ensuing period.
In one of his ramblings columns at ESPN.com, which served as a platform for what would eventually become his tweets, Simmons wrote the following in May of 2008:
I know she’s doing a fine job, but does it make me a sexist that I can’t listen to Doris Burke analyze NBA playoff games without thinking, “Woman talking woman talking woman talking woman talking …” the entire time?
This ramblings column also featured a lament about the Helmet Catch, an observation about how every time he sees Braylon Edwards he’ll only think of the now-former receiver as a bystander caught in the crossfire between Bob Costas, Buzz Bissinger, and Will Leitch, and this line about the WNBA: “All right, I’ll ask: How come it took three seconds to euthanize Eight Belles, but the WNBA is starting Year 12?”
In the past several weeks, Simmons has had the following tweets about Doris Burke:
He thought it was embarrassing that she was on sidelines on a the #1 team that featured Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mark Jackson as announcers:
And he was thrilled she was on the call for Celtics-Sixers Game 3:
In a 2015 podcast with Lena Dunham, Simmons said the following about how his views on gender had evolved (edited for clarity via Deadspin transcription):
“Well I used to be a chauvinist before I had a daughter. I had this whole thing about how, sports fans I liked how it was like our last male thing. Leave us alone, why do you have to watch football with us. This is our thing, just leave us … But then when I had my daughter and I was like, Wow. My daughter, like, totally changed my outlook on just about all male-female things.”
That he was able to publish that line about Doris Burke on the online platform of the same company that employed her is in and of itself a reminder of just how different things are now than they were in 2008.
Nevertheless, it’s not only not an impediment when we all learn that Doris Burke is calling a game now, it’s really a treat. Andrew Marchand recently wrote in the New York Post that ESPN should elevate her to their top NBA announce team if Mark Jackson or Jeff Van Gundy gets a head coaching job, and this is hardly a controversial take.