The Washington Wizards are currently fifth in the Eastern Conference and are trying to maintain their place among the top teams in the league. Regardless of how their season turns out, their TV broadcast crew has already cornered an honor of their own as the only all-black broadcast crew currently in the NBA.
While NBC Sports Washington announcer Chris Miller, analyst Drew Gooden and courtroom reporter Meghan McPeak aren’t the first all-black NBA TV team (Charlotte’s Eric Collins, Dell Curry and Stephanie Ready own this award), it’s still worth noting that they it’s unfortunately a rarity among the 30 NBA franchises and their local network partners.
Ava Wallace spoke to broadcasters for a Washington Post article about what it took to bring all the pieces together and what it means to them.
Miller, who found success in the mostly white field of play-by-play announcers, is actually the first black man to announce games on Washington DC’s NHL, NBA and MLB teams. Miller was thrilled to learn that fact, but also wanted to make it clear that he’s trying not to think in those terms.
“I don’t think it’s the be-all and end-all of what we do. I never think, hey, I’m a black play-by-play announcer in the NBA, I just don’t think about it,” Miller said. “I think I’ve been in this industry for 26 years. I got my breakthrough, my dream job in 16th grade on a team that I put my heart and soul into.”
While he told WaPo he doesn’t think about how groundbreaking the Wizards broadcast team is, he does see what they represent.
“We’re not the first [all-Black crew], we’re just next,” Miller said. “Which means hopefully more of us will follow.”
Many Thanks@avarwallacefor sharing our story. Again: “We are not the first [all-Black crew], we’re just the next, “which means hopefully more of us will follow.” https://t.co/K5HfK8VHt0
— Chris Mueller ??? (@cmillsnbcs) November 23, 2022
Gooden also said he expects the voices behind the mics during NBA games to continue to diversify in the years to come.
“Once you get behind that mic, those jobs are set in stone for 20, 30, 40 years, some of those jobs. When do you actually get an injection? It doesn’t matter who you are,” Gooden said. “Now you’re starting to see people retiring and other people are starting to get a chance. So I don’t think so [White male play-by-play announcers] will be the norm in the future. I think it’s going to be the best man for the job, it’s going to be timely, it’s going to be based on what people want to hear. And it will be innovative.”
It’s not rocket science for McPeak, who became one of the first women to do play-by-play when she called a preseason Wizards game on Monumental Sports Network in 2018.
“It’s basketball. We’re not trying to do rocket science or brain surgery, we want viewers to have fun,” she told WaPo. “That’s my #1 goal in every game – was I having fun? Chris and Drew, they make it easy while I do my due diligence to tell these players’ stories.”
[Washington Post, image via NBC Sports Washington]