Basketball and broadcasting legend Ann Meyers Drysdale has made history many times in her life.
It’s not a conscious thing; it’s just who she is.
Case in point: Meyers Drysdale was the first player to be part of the U.S. National team while still in high school, the first woman at UCLA to be signed to a four-year athletic scholarship for college, and was the first woman to sign a contract with an NBA team (the Indiana Pacers).
These days, Meyers Drysdale shares her wealth of basketball knowledge on Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury television broadcasts. She’ll be the color commentator for the Suns when they visit the Pacers on January 12, and can’t help but fondly look back to her historic tryout with Indiana in 1979.
“I love going back,” Meyers Drysdale said. “There are always a lot of memories that flood back in. I’m so appreciative of the opportunity they gave me. It’s been an awful long time – almost 40 years. That was history. It’s not like I went in there wanting to make history, but it’s probably more special now because of the impact it had and how it helped change a lot of things.”
After her tryout with the Pacers, Meyers Drysdale made broadcasting history by becoming the first ever female color commentator for an NBA team (again with the Indiana Pacers).
Nearly 40 years later, Meyers Drysdale helped to once again rewrite the history books.
During the Phoenix Suns vs. Charlotte Hornets game on January 6, Meyers Drysdale joined the Hornets’ Stephanie Ready as television color analysts. It was the first time ever that two local NBA telecasts of the same game featured female analysts.
“I worked with [Stephanie] at ESPN when she was first getting into the business coming off coaching,” Meyers Drysdale said. “I’m just so proud of her. Like a lot of other women in this business, we’ve been doing it for a while and certainly appreciate having the opportunity with people who are willing to take chances.
“She’s earned the right and has the credentials to do it.”
Both women share an insatiable passion for the game of basketball, and the exceptional courage to put themselves out there as examples for others to follow (Ready was the first female coach of a men’s professional team in 2001).
That is to say, blazing the trail for women in sports is obviously far easier said than done.
“It was the first thing I remember growing up and feeling like I can’t live without,” Ready said about basketball. “What Annie has done so well for so long gave me confidence. It was a special night because I got to work with someone who literally paved the way for not just me, but for all of us.”
Meyers Drysdale and Ready know more about the game of basketball than what many of us hope to learn in our collective lifetimes. That’s why being analysts together was a seamless fit, not because of their gender.
“It felt normal,” she said. “I’ve been broadcasting almost 40 years now. It doesn’t matter what race, age or gender that is announcing basketball – it’s still basketball.
“A pick-and-roll is a pick-and-roll and a block out is a block out; it doesn’t matter who is doing it.”