The Milwaukee Bucks captured their first NBA title in 50 years this summer and reveled in their latest triumph. However, the franchise’s hiring of Lisa Byington as its full-time play-by-play announcer is a historic move that is every bit as impactful as winning a championship.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co. will try to go back-to-back this upcoming season. Byington will be there every step of the way, which is a monumental step for women in sports.
The Bucks’ hiring of Lisa Byington has historic implications
Lisa Byington will make history when she puts on the headset this fall.
The Bucks announced Wednesday that Byington would be their new play-by-play announcer for games on Bally Sports Wisconsin. She replaces the departing Jim Paschke, who retired following the 2020-21 season after calling Bucks games for 35 years.
With that announcement, Byington becomes the first female full-time play-by-play announcer to call games for a major men’s professional sports organization. She was humble in accepting the role, thanking Paschke for his work and expressing pride at taking over for the esteemed play-by-play man.
“I know that I will be stepping into the role long-held by Jim Paschke, and I appreciate his passion for the team and the memorable moments his voice will always be a part of,” Byington said, via ESPN. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge his work and commitment to the franchise, and it’s my honor to be the one who takes the baton from him. I’m particularly excited to work with such an amazing team of Marques Johnson, Zora Stephenson, Steve Novak, and everyone involved with Bucks games at Bally Sports Wisconsin.”
Team president Peter Feignin expressed excitement at Byington moving into the role, adding that her “extensive” background in television made her the “perfect choice” to replace Paschke.
Indeed, Byington is incredibly well-versed in the sporting arena. She’s no stranger to landmark occasions, either.
Byington made history earlier this year
This fall will mark the second time Byington made history in the past several months.
Byington became the first woman to call NCAA men’s basketball games this past March as part of the split coverage between CBS and Turner Sports. She was on the call for some big games as well, giving play-by-play for Abilene Christian’s win over Texas and Oral Roberts‘ win over Florida, which sent the Golden Eagles to the Sweet 16.
The Michigan native worked hard to get to this place. As described on her website, Byington started at a local television station in Alpena, Michigan before spending the better part of a decade in Lansing. That lengthy run set her up for an elevated national profile.
Byington has since appeared on various networks. She did play-by-play for the Women’s World Cup on Fox in 2019 and covered soccer for NBC Sports at the Tokyo Olympics. Before making history during March Madness, Byington was the first female play-by-play announcer for a Big Ten network college football game in 2017.
Now, Byington has a full-time role in Milwaukee. She continues to move the goalposts for women in sports media. Will she witness another Bucks championship?
Can the Bucks go back-to-back?
The Bucks are seeking to become the first back-to-back champions since the Golden State Warriors accomplished the feat in 2018. They’ll have a good chance of doing just that.
Milwaukee’s entire starting five returns next season, with Donte DiVincenzo coming back from injury after missing nearly the entirety of the playoffs. The Bucks also re-signed Bobby Portis, who provided a huge spark throughout the run to the title.
The Brooklyn Nets should be a threat if they can stay healthy. A Miami Heat team led by Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, and Bam Adebayo could challenge for their second Eastern Conference title in the last three seasons. The Philadelphia 76ers might be in the picture, depending on how the Ben Simmons situation plays out. Of course, a host of challengers will come from the Western Conference.
Still, the Bucks stand a decent chance of repeating. Lisa Byington will call the whole journey as she continues to be a trailblazer in the industry.