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Mark Jones Reflects on Historic NBA Finals Call

Mark Jones made history when he joined Mark Jackson and Lisa Salters as part of the NBA’s first all-black broadcast team to call an NBA Finals game.  

Jones, who has served as the Kings color commentator alongside TV Game Analyst Kayte Christensen for the past two seasons, filled in for Mike Breen while he recovered from COVID-19 during Game 1 of the NBA Finals.  

The moment was significant for Jones, who says he was in the process of taking his dog to the vet when he received word just 36 hours before tip-off that he would be calling Game 1 of Warriors vs. Celtics. 

“I never thought I’d have chance to call an NBA Finals game. But to be at ESPN 32 years and to have my first opportunity to call and NBA Finals game with Mark Jackson and Lisa Salters as part of the first ever All Black NBA Finals announcing team is truly a monumental and historic moment. Our collective talent and experience is beyond reproach. Additionally, representation matters. Especially in a league where 80% of the players are Black and 50% of NBA coaches are Black. Who better to document and analyze the game while also being to empathize with and see their journey through the Black experience.” 

Jones’ accomplishment comes on the heels of Sacramento naming current Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown as their next head coach.  

The hiring makes Brown one of 15 Black coaches currently leading teams in the NBA, the most, by far, among any other major sports league in the United States.

“It’s comforting to be part of a league where inclusivity is something that’s lived, not only talked about,” Jones said.  

Jones, who had worked a total of 11 playoff games leading up to his Game 1 assignment, continued to fill in for Breen for Game 2, this time alongside Jeff Van Gundy. Breen returned from Health and Safety Protocols for Game 3, but Jones will never forget his opportunity to make history.  

“That night,” Jones said. “June 2, 2022, Game 1 of the NBA Finals, will be forever emblazoned in my mind as one of the top of my broadcasting accomplishments.”