The transition would have been, you’d think, a tough one. From crusty but benign coaching legend (with a shtick, no less) to a young, knowledgeable (and very serious) woman. But Sarah Kustok replacing Mike Fratello was, as it turned out, nothing.
Differing styles, for sure, but in the end, the YES Network telecasts of Nets games were executed with the same high-grade professionalism that has marked them for decades. The Nets may not be very good but the broadcast team is, was, and, as it looks, will be for a long time.
“It’s been a non-event, a non-issue,” Ian Eagle told Newsday’s Neil Best, summarizing Kustok’s first season sitting next to him. “To me, that is the best compliment that you could have.”
Kustok feels the same way.
“I just want to show up and go to work,” she said before Monday night’s game against the Bulls at Barclays Center. “I don’t like a lot of attention on myself, despite the job and despite that we’re on camera.”
YES, Kustok is the first female analyst on a regional sports network’s broadcast of an NBA team’s games, but she didn’t just fall out of the sky on to the YES bench. She played the game, she coached the game and was the YES sideline reporter and fill-in analyst. She was well-prepared. But, as Best writes, YES did wonder if some fans push back against hearing a woman in that role?
“At the beginning there was some trepidation on that being a possibility,” producer Frank DiGraci said. “But after the first game, I knew it was gone . . . She’s not a woman doing the game. She’s a basketball person doing the game.”
And that is that.
- Sarah Kustok, YES analyst, keeps fans of Nets’ hoops in the loop - Neil Best - Newsday