NBA Finals: Doris Burke Was The Moment

BY CHRIS TAYLOR | Senior Director | Ball State Sports Link

Doris did it again.

At the NCAA Women’s Final Four in 2016, Doris Burke and I had a terrific conversation.  It wasn’t about basketball, or UConn’s dominance or anything sports-related.  It was about interviewing.

One of my students, Tyler Bradfield, had just finished an interview with Doris at NCAA headquarters during media day.

“He’s good,” she said.  “He asks good questions and knows his stuff.”

After the camera was turned off and while Tyler went on to his next interview, Doris and I talked more about the skills of interviewing and what we were teaching at Ball State.

Four days later, on the court within minutes of the National Championship, Doris agreed to do a Facebook live interview with Tyler.

“With him?  Of course.”

I’ve long admired Doris for her versatility at ESPN.  Just watch her lay out following Mississippi State’s upset of UConn earlier this season.  While any other talent is trying to find the words to make their mark, Doris doesn’t get in the way.  It’s remarkable.

Following Game 5 of a predictable 2017 NBA Finals — and probably way too late in the night for much of the country to appreciate — Doris did it again.

At the highest level of sport, a post major event interview that was the very definition of interviewing.

Doris wasn’t lost in the moment — she WAS the moment.

Through thoughtful, insightful and direct questions, she annihilated the cliche responses every other media member gets.

She didn’t interrupt or steal the spotlight.  She asked a question. And then another one.  And another one.  Yet again, it was remarkable.

Social media reacted, too.  Do a Twitter search for ‘Doris Burke interview’ and see for yourself.

Interviewing is a subject near to my heart and pedagogy.  To me, it’s the most challenging, but also the most important skill you can develop.  Ask a question, don’t make a statement.  My lectures on interviewing always start with this:

  • Interviews should serve three main purposes:
    • To acquire new information
    • To elicit a source’s opinion
    • To tap into a person’s thoughts and feelings

Doris delivered all three and took us (the viewer) to a place we never would have gone if she didn’t ask a question.

Don’t be so focused on your questions and searching for good answers that you miss the obvious.  This is the difference between student and professional.  Shoot, it’s the difference between professionals.  Doris proved this.

Look them in the eye.  Show that you are invested in them as a person.  Not only is it good interviewing, it builds trust.

Author: Chris Taylor

Senior Director of Ball State Sports Link & Digital Sports Production | Lecturer of Telecommunications | 2019 Dean's Faculty Award Winner | 2017 Recipient of SVG College Sports Summit Pioneer Award | Storyteller | Producer | Emmy Award Winner | Sports Media Junkie | Social Media Strategist | Certified Bob Ross® Instructor | Country Music Enthusiast | Goldendoodle Owner | Follow me on Twitter @BallStateCT

1 thought on “NBA Finals: Doris Burke Was The Moment

  1. It’s not the questions but listening that is the most important part of an interview. She is listening to the answer to direct her to the next question.
    I tell my students to avoid conducting interviews but rather have a conversation. You always get the best responses for your story that way.
    As always, good stuff, CT.

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