In alphabetical order, these are our top ten women who in recent years have risen to the top of the heap, covering the NBA in print and/or television:
At age 25, Malika Andrews is considered one of the up and coming stars in the world of NBA reporting. Before joining ESPN, she was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune as well as doing some filing for the New York Times. She has been with ESPN since 2018.
She contributes to SportsCenter and ESPN Radio. Being recognized for her reporting acumen, Andrews was chosen to be a sideline reporter for the 2020 NBA playoffs in the Orlando Bubble. This feat made her one of the youngest sideline reporters ever for a Conference Finals telecast.
Despite her youth, she has already won a variety of awards, from the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. She attended the University of Portland where she was editor-in-chief of The Beacon, the university’s student newspaper.
Burke’s illustrious career started in a Friars’ jersey, playing college ball for Providence. She excelled as a point guard, leading the Big East Conference in assists. Later, she was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.
After college, Doris hit the broadcasting scene, starting by calling PC’s games on radio. It led to work on Big East Television for both men’s and women’s games. Before long, Burke was hired by Madison Square Garden where in 2000 she sat in the analyst’s chair for some Knicks broadcasts on radio and TV. Her stock kept rising. In 2003, she was on the sidelines for ESPN and before you knew it, Burke was assigned in-game analyst’s work for NBA games. Since 2009, she’s covered the NBA Finals as a sideliner and commentator. This past season in the Bubble, Doris was the analyst on ESPN’s national radio coverage for the title series.
In 2018, Burke was honored for her pioneering television work by the Basketball Hall of Fame when selected to receive the Curt Gowdy Award for broadcasting excellence.
Tania Ganguli is the Los Angeles Times’ beat reporter covering the Lakers. Her 15-year writing career began in 2005 when she graduated from Northwestern University. She has since risen the ranks after starting by following high school sports, college football and many other events in between.
Ganguli’s role is far from a typical local market sports reporter. First, Los Angeles is the country’s second largest market. More importantly, with the presence of Lebron James, the team draws a national media presence. She’s received numerous awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors as well as being named the Chronicle Sportswriter of the Year in 2013.
Ganguli is also often featured and interviewed on radio and television on Los Angeles broadcast platforms as well as nationally. Ganguli has distinguished herself as one of the most talented beat writers in the NBA.
Sarah Kustok is a sports reporter covering the Brooklyn Nets on the YES Network which she joined in 2012. Sarah made history by becoming the first female analyst for an NBA team’s local broadcast. This followed her impressive job as a sideline reporter.
Kustok’s career began as a reporter for NBC Sports Chicago which afforded her an opportunity to cover a wide range of sports. She’s also been a game analyst for the WNBA and NBA G-League. Since then, Kustok has also been a regular on FOX Sports’ First Things First, as well as other spot appearances on a variety of NBA television programming.
She has enjoyed recognition for her work including the New York Emmy Award for sports analysis, a first for a woman for that award. It represents one of four Emmys she’s won in her short time with the YES network.
Kristen Ledlow’s career began as an intern with Orlando’s NBC affiliate during the 2009 NBA finals when the Magic lost to the Lakers. Her love for basketball has held true since then. She’s been assigned as a sports anchor and co-host for NBA Inside Stuff on NBA TV.
Ledlow has found herself involved in different ventures throughout the NBA landscape from being a host for the Starters, to initiating a podcast with WNBA All-Star Candace Parker. The Starters hand out six major NBA awards (MVP, MIP, DPOY, ROY, Coach, and Sixth Man), while also announcing winners in some light-hearted categories, such as Fan, Wedgie, Whoa Boy, and Funniest Moment of the Year. Ledlow also does sideline reporting for NBA TV and NBA on TNT.
You might say that Jackie MacMullan is the dean of NBA reporters. She began as an intern for the Boston Globe in 1982. It led to a 20-year affiliation with the esteemed newspaper where she grew into an influential columnist. Jackie was honored by the Naismith Hall of Fame for her excellence as a basketball writer.
MacMullan is currently a senior writer for ESPN and a regular panelist on Around the Horn. She’s made over 700 appearances on the program. MacMullan makes regular appearances too on many other ESPN shows, including editions of SportsCenter, The Jump and SportsNation. She was on ESPN’s first Sports Reporters show in 1988 and the only female panelist for the first couple of years of the popular program.
In 2018, she co-authored, Basketball: A Love Story. It was her fifth book.
Rachel Nichols is a prominent female face on ESPN’s NBA coverage. Nichols is host of The Jump, a daily half-hour program focused on the NBA. The fast-paced program originates from ESPN’s Los Angeles studios and includes regular appearances by current and former NBA players, as well as ESPN analysts, reporters and insiders.
Nichols started her journalism career in the 1990s as a writer for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. She joined ESPN in 2004 and remained through 2013. Rachel then joined Turner and returned to ESPN in 2016
Nichols served as a sideline reporter for the 2020 NBA finals in the Bubble. Rachel has a significant role in ESPN’s NBA coverage.
Lisa Salters is comfortable around both news and sports. She aspired to go into news which she did, first at WBAL-TV in Baltimore and then at ABC News in Los Angeles. One thing led to another and Lisa wound up at ESPN in 2000. She’s a fixture on the Monday Night Football sidelines for ESPN and has been around the NBA for the network since 2005. Salters says: “I had covered the OJ Simpson I and II trials every day, and I covered the Oklahoma City bombing trial at ABC. So ESPN had me cover the Ray Lewis trial and other news related stories as a general news reporter.”
Her road to the NBA was a matter of circumstances. She was asked to fill in for Michele Tafoya in 2005 who was out on maternity leave. Lisa comes quietly and goes quietly. A good interviewer, she puts her subjects at ease.
Ramona Shelburne began her journalistic pursuits as a freshman at Stanford University writing about sports for the Stanford Daily. She joined the Los Angeles Daily News in 2002.
It is through this time she developed a reputation as one of the best NBA writers and reporters. This ultimately led to television appearances on a variety of ESPN shows. Ramona has 400,000 followers on Twitter!
Her reporting and writing skills received multiple awards from the Pro Basketball Writers Association. This includes winning first place in the PBWA Best Writing Contest in 2014 for her exceptional reporting on Donald Sterling and the selling of the Los Angeles Clippers.
In her six years at ESPN, Taylor’s career has ballooned. She’s been the face of in-studio and in-stadium programming in various roles covering college football, men’s and women’s basketball. She added NBA Countdown hosting duties to her roster in 2019. Taylor has also been visible on ESPN’s NBA Draft programming.
She’s had an active role in ESPN’s presentation of the NBA playoffs.
In her meteoric rise, she has not been shy to voice her opinion on a variety of subjects inside and outside sports. In September, Chicago radio personality Dan McNeil likened her attire to something more fit for the adult film industry. Taylor confidently responded saying, “Danny dearest, if you would like to continue making sexist comments about me… bring your misogyny with you to the NBA Countdown doubleheader I’ll be hosting tomorrow night.” McNeil was fired by 670 Sports for the comment.