Fresh off their first NBA championship since 1971, the Milwaukee Bucks will make history once again when they tip off the 2021-22 season.
The Bucks have selected Lisa Byington as the lead announcer for their television broadcasts on Bally Sports Wisconsin, making her the first full-time female play-by-play announcer for a major men’s professional sports team.
“We are so excited to welcome Lisa to the Bucks family and to bring such a talented play-by-play announcer to our broadcast team,” said Bucks President Peter Feigin. “Lisa’s extensive television broadcasting background, including her play-by-play work for high-level NCAA basketball on several national networks, makes her the perfect choice to take on this major role.”
Byington, 45, was a standout basketball player at Portage Northern in Michigan before playing both sports at Northwestern. She has worked as a play-by-play announcer, studio host and reporter for CBS, Turner Sports, Fox and the Big Ten Network during her broadcasting career.
This past spring, she became the first woman in the history of CBS and Turner Sports to do play-by-play for men’s NCAA Tournament games. Byington also does play-by-play work for the WNBA’s Chicago Sky.
“I’m absolutely thrilled for this opportunity, and the ability to work with a first-class franchise and a championship organization like the Milwaukee Bucks,” Byington said in a news release.
“I understand the groundbreaking nature of this hire, and I appreciate the fact that during this process that aspect was addressed, but never made a primary focus. In fact, I applaud the Bucks for taking the first steps toward making hires like this more of the norm in the NBA. Because it’s time.”
Byington will take over the play-by-play duties from longtime Bucks announcer Jim Paschke. Former Bucks All-Star forward Marques Johnson will continue his role as analyst.
“While we appreciate the significance of selecting Lisa, and we celebrate this historic moment, Lisa earned this position based on her extraordinary skills and experience,” Feigin added.
“We look forward to Lisa becoming the voice of the Bucks.”
Before she brought success to the Portage Northern basketball team in 1993 — including the school’s first district title — she was a star in debate.
“Last year I was on the debate team during the first semester, and everybody in debate goes into forensics in the second semester,” she told the Free Press in ’93. “I decided to do an original oratory.”
Byington entitled her oratory “The Comeback Kid.” She went through the state tournament at district and regional levels before advancing to the state finals.
“It was over two days and I might have given my speech eight times,” she said.
The goal entering the two-day event was to be one of the six to reach the finals. She did.
“I was just excited to get to the finals because the top six got trophies,” she said. “I didn’t expect to win, but I told myself this would be the last time I gave the speech.”
She took the title — and a 2-foot trophy — but it wasn’t the end of her speech.
After Northern upset Benton Harbor in the district final — sparked by 31 points from Byington, with 12 in the fourth quarter — she was in the spotlight one final time.
“On the bus home after the game the team wanted me to give my speech,” she said.
Free Press sports writer Mick McCabe contributed to this report.