Lakers-Utah get ESPN’s ladies on the microphone

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Dan Shulman is always a pro, understated but sated with knowledge, and his ESPN broadcast partner Saturday night on ESPN was Doris Burke, who was hired earlier this year to become a key part of the ABC/ESPN NBA coverage. And with Nancy Lieberman as the sideline reporter, I’ll guess there were some guys who thought they stumbled onto a WNBA broadcast or a replay of a women’s NCAA game if they were only listening and not watching the Lakers beat the Jazz.

But you know what? Listening to that trio was a highlight of the day. A well-modulated, informative call of a game lacking much of interest to anyone but Laker or Jazz fans. It was a relaxing antidote to the endless and sometimes aimless wall-to-wall NFL draft day coverage.

That was just brain overload, too much stuff, too much talking, too many numbers and none of it means much until mini camps start and games get played. Just to make sure I’m told by a few of you to go back to the kitchen (or laundry room or other rooms that will go unmentioned), my favorite part of all the draft coverage during these past couple of weeks has been ESPN’s Shelley Smith’s work with USC draft possibilities, most notably quarterback Mark Sanchez. Smith does her research, cultivates her sources and gets the interviews with USC players and families.

So, who’s going to be up at 7 a.m. to catch Day 2 of the NFL draft by the way?


-- Diane Pucin