Stephanie Ready makes history

Stephanie Ready is used to making history in the men's game.

Now she's doing it again as the first full-time female NBA game analyst on FOX Sports Southeast's Hornets broadcasts.

Ready will join new play-by-play announcer Eric Collins and Hornets legend Dell Curry in the booth for the upcoming season.

"This is actually the reason I got into television in the first place," Ready said. "I always wanted to be a game analyst. I have a passion for the game of basketball and being a coach you teach the game and you learn how to explain the game to people who may not understand it. I thought being a game analyst on television would be perfect, because that's what you get to do."

It's a role she began training for years ago when she was in elementary school and began playing basketball. He mother, who didn't know the game, asked her what a pick was.

"How does that work?" she wanted to know. "What does that mean? What happens after you set it?"

The explanation led to more questions and for Ready, it was "A light bulb moment," she said, "understanding people can't love something that they don't understand. ... If you can help them understand the game a little bit better, you'll help them fall in love with it."

Breaking down the game isn't new to Ready. Neither is blazing trails within it.

In 2001, Ready became the first woman to coach in a men's professional sport as she was named assistant coach of the NBDL's Greenville Groove. She also spent two years as an assistant at Coppin State, where she was the third woman ever to coach a Division I men's team -- joining Oakland's Jennifer Johnston and Kentucky's Bernadette Mattox -- and was the first to be a full-time recruiting assistant on any staff.

But she doesn't see herself as a pioneer, simply as someone who seizes opportunities that are brought about by her passion for basketball.

"I didn't set out to blaze a trail or be the first," she said of her past. "It just naturally came because of the work that I was doing. Having said that though, I think that things happen for a reason and that there's some people that may not be ready to be the first to do something because there's a lot that comes with that.

"There's a lot of pressure. There's a lot of skepticism. There's a lot of people that may think it could be publicity stunt and I've always just been about forging ahead, doing the task at hand, handling my business, so to speak, doing the job and letting the job and the work speak for itself."

This will be Ready's 12th year on Hornets telecasts, as she was previously the host of Hornets LIVE! and an in-game sideline reporter. She has also filled in for Curry in the analyst role in a two-person booth.

"She knows the game very well. She knows the players. She knows strategy, plays," Curry said. "As an ex-player, whether you're male or female, if you're an ex-player, you should know your craft and she definitely does."

With a comfort level with the Hornets, the city and the fans, Ready sees this as the ideal situation to take on an analyst role.

"Just being so familiar with the team, the coaches, the players, the organization, this absolutely is a perfect fit," Ready said. "As far as transitioning from one job to the other, I don't think there could be a more perfect place to do that."

She'll have veterans at her side in Collins and Curry.

Collins joins the network after working with FOX Sports and FOX Sports 1 as a play-by-play announcer for Big East basketball, college football and MLB games. He has also called games for ABC Sports, the Big Ten Network, ESPN, NBC Sports and was an in-game reporter for the Bulls on FOX Sports Net Chicago.

Curry is the Hornets' all-time leader in games played and a member of the franchise's original team in 1988-89, he is back for his seventh season as a FOX Sports Southeast analyst.

"I couldn't possibly be more excited to return to the NBA under the absolute best of circumstances," Collins said in a statement. "I'm thrilled to work with Dell and Stephanie covering an organization on the rise. This is going to be special."

Said Curry "(Ready will) bring a different insight being a female talking about a men's game and I'm really looking forward to working with her. We get along great and I think it will be a very exciting show we put on on a nightly basis."

Making up the first three-person NBA booth at the regional level, Curry expects challenges to present themselves as they find their rapport.

"I think it's going to be new for all of us," Curry said. "Really, the biggest thing is to try and not step on each other. Just try to be yourself and bring your own personality and own insights to the game."

The trio will also be part of the Hornets LIVE! pregame show.

"With national sports broadcaster Eric Collins making his debut as the Hornets play-by-play announcer, Stephanie Ready moving to the broadcast booth with her unique X's and O's insight and Hornets all-time leading scorer Dell Curry returning with his player perspective, this will be a milestone season in Hornets television coverage," said Jeff Genthner, senior vice president and general manager, FOX Sports Southeast. "We could not be more proud of making history with our local NBA telecasts right here in Charlotte."

The Hornets open the season on Wednesday, Oct. 28 on the road against the Heat.

"We are excited to welcome Eric to the Hornets and the Charlotte community," said Hornets President & COO Fred Whitfield via a press release. "He brings experience, versatility and a strong play-by-play call to our broadcasts. Our re-vamped Hornets telecast with a three-person booth of Eric, Dell and Stephanie will provide our viewers with even more insight, knowledge and expertise. We are proud to have two talented basketball analysts in Dell, a former player, and Stephanie, a former coach, and be able to utilize their collective strengths to benefit our fans."

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