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DIANE PUCIN / ON THE MEDIA

Burke's view from the sideline should add to ABC's credibility

October 31, 2008|DIANE PUCIN | Pucin is a Times staff writer.

Sideline reporters haven't taken as many hits as Sarah Palin lately.

But almost.

This week, Fox's Danyelle Sargent was scorched for making it seem as if the late Bill Walsh was still alive. Last summer, ESPN's Erin Andrews was the subject of debate after a Chicago-area columnist criticized the length of Andrews' dress while she worked the Milwaukee Brewers' clubhouse.

ABC is trying to break that trend. The network made a refreshing hire this week, choosing Doris Burke to take over as its lead NBA sideline reporter.

"I don't think anybody is hiring me on my looks or clothes," said Burke, a married mother of two. She is replacing Michele Tafoya, who gave up the job last spring because the intense travel schedule kept her away from her family.

Burke, who has earned a reputation as a meticulous reporter and a knowledgeable analyst in her work for ESPN covering men's and women's college basketball, said she used to think that sideline reporters were more unnecessary nuisance than providers of interesting information.

If that sounds as if Burke is still convincing herself the job is important, maybe she is.

"I sometimes wonder: What is the point of the sideline person?" Burke said. "But I've come to appreciate that if you work at the job you can begin to find out bits and pieces of information that can really give the viewer something to be interested in."

She is aware of the uproar caused by Sargent's mistake -- which never aired but found its way onto the Internet -- by asking new 49ers Coach Mike Singletary if he had called Walsh when he got the job.

And, yes, Burke paid attention to the discussion about the way Andrews dressed -- her outfit described as "skimpy," her manner "flirty."

"From my perspective, I'm just a nuts-and-bolts person," Burke said. "I think I have a lot of basketball knowledge. That's my thing."

The winner is . . .

If there was an organized get-out-the-online-vote by Kings fans, Bob Miller is thankful. Miller also will take any win he can get over Dodgers legend Vin Scully.

Of the 1,183 votes cast in the Los Angeles Times poll to select both your favorite and least favorite sports play-by-play announcers, hockey Hall of Fame member Miller won with 516 votes (44%) over baseball Hall of Fame member Scully, who finished with 366 votes (31%).

"That's a surprise to me," Miller said. "It's quite an honor. When I saw the list of names I automatically thought I had no chance."

Third in the voting for the best was Clippers broadcaster Ralph Lawler and Lawler might have gotten Miller's vote.

"Ralph's been with a team that has not often won," Miller said. "When a team is not winning, that's when an announcer really has to do a good job."

Miller said he had heard rumors that Kings fans made a concerted effort to vote for him and Miller was perfectly fine with that.

"We do have loyal fans," he said. "I know the reaction often is that there aren't a lot of hockey fans and therefore they don't get enough respect. So maybe there was some of that, that we have a sport a few of us love but that not everybody likes."

And, Miller said, he's sure he's beaten Scully before. "I've won a couple of Southern California sports broadcaster awards," Miller said. "I think I won once even when Vin was eligible."

And the loser is . . .

Fresh in everybody's mind apparently, Fox's Joe Buck was least-favorite play-by-play man. Buck (125 votes) edged out Brent Musburger (113).

Worth watching

Call it the Heisman Switch. At 5 p.m. Saturday top-ranked Texas plays at Texas Tech on Channel 7 at the same time Oklahoma hosts Nebraska on ESPN, so have the clicker ready. Three Heisman Trophy candidates will be available for viewing: Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell and Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. Nebraska must have a quarterback, but he won't matter. . . .

Call it Cris Collinsworth says what? Of the NFL "Sunday Night Football" game between Indianapolis and New England, host of the NBC pregame show and NFL Network analyst Collinsworth said: "This game becomes more intriguing without Tom Brady, not less." What a salesman! More Matt Cassel, less Tom Brady!

We can presume Collinsworth would find the Lakers "more intriguing" without Kobe Bryant; and the Dodgers as "more intriguing" without Manny Ramirez. So Collinsworth will enjoy the Dodgers a lot next year.

--

diane.pucin@latimes.com

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