There have been so many people to cover the sport, which makes this list so difficult.  But  just a forewarning, these are MY opinions.  NO changes.  So many people have impacted basketball with their openness, accuracy, and perspective on the game. For this list though, I’ve narrowed it down to my top 5.

sager

5. Craig Sager: Craig was easily the most “colorful” analyst and interviewer of all time.  Clearly the marquee detail about him was his various crazy suits.  The NBA had a love hate relationship with his wild style.  One of the best quotes on his suits was from a classic interview with Kevin Garnett when KG told him “I need you to do something for me.  Burn this whole outfit”.  As hilarious as that is, people loved his style expression along with his personalty.  Craig’s wardrobe was a representation of the person he was.  All of the NBA players and coaches connected with Sager on a personal level.  Which is why it was such a devastating blow to the league when he passed away in 2016 to cancer.  After decades of legendary interviews, he is now lived on through his son who picked up where his dad left off.

doris

4. Doris Burke: Doris is probably the best known woman in basketball.  She has been on the sidelines for years and is one of the voices of 2K.  Doris is knowledgeable and used to ball out herself back in the day when she played at Providence.  Sadly the WNBA came after her time.  More recently she has been the center of a weird celebrity crush thing.  Rapper Drake over the last few years has been TOO open about having some sort of crush on her by stalking her and wearing sweaters with her face on them.  Most of the time that would crack me up, but something about that dude just comes across as rapey.  Stay safe out there Doris!  By the way, we all love you too.

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3. Shaq: Shaquille O’Neal was one of the most high profile and legendary talents that the league has ever witnessed.  But turns out he’s got talent in a different area of basketball.  He has been on TNT for a number of ears now covering the NBA with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley.  Which is the best part.  Shaq bullying Charles is the main reason I tune in.  The feud between these two giant ass clowns is the best version of NBA entertainment.  Shaq is exciting and is always doing crazy things on TV.  Not to mention he is very intelligent in regards of the game and is straight up honest.  He’s not afraid to voice his opinion on anyone.  Don’t forget this gargantuan lyricist is responsible for the line “hey Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes”.

stu scott

2. Stuart Scott: Stu is probably everyone’s favorite member of Sports Center.  He was one of the original anchors and provided such insightful coverage of all sports.  Stu also had a special way of showing compassion and care when breaking a story whether it was good or bad.  He was a titan of the entire sports reporting industry, but specialized in basketball.  He did interviews, covered playoff and all star games, and any NBA feature pieces on ESPN.  Stu lost his battle with cancer in 2015 and hit the sports world harder with a heavy heart than it probably has ever been before.  He truly left a great legacy as a reporter and a man.  We miss you Stu, you were truly “cooler than the other side of the pillow”.

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1. Stephen A. Smith: THAT’S RIGHT BABY HAHAHAHA.  As hated as he is, I LOVE this man.  He is wild and will literally say any goddamn absurd thought that comes to mind.  I love his brutal honesty and how he can so politely insult anyone.  Love or hate the man, no one can deny he is probably the most confident and entertaining man in sports news today.  If you disagree, you must be like “Lamar Odom… who was on CRAAAACK”.  Stephen A. does two radio shows, has 3 TV shows he regularly appears on and is featured on multiple other sports platforms.  He is a busy man and worked hard to build his prowess and I respect the hell out of that.  He will argue with anyone about anything in the most animated way possible.  With all of that along with the fact that he has been covering the NBA for 30+ years, he is most likely my biggest influence in basketball news and total sports coverage.  So for me to put anyone else atop this list, would just be “BLASPHEMOUS”.

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Written by benfiore

NBA writer of Beyond the Arc. Employee, podcast host and writer for Thoughts From the Bench.

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