Meet Sacramento Kings' TV Analyst Kayte Hunter
Yesterday was historic as the game between the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors featured the first ever all-female NBA broadcast. On Saturday, the Sacramento Kings will present an exclusively women & non-binary announcing & coverage team for their game against the Cavaliers. The in-game analyst for that presentation will be the great Kayte Hunter.
For the 15th installment in our NBA Broadcaster series, Basketball Intelligence's Ray LeBov recently interviewed Kayte. That Q & A follows below:
RAY LeBOV: How did you get started playing basketball?
KAYTE HUNTER: I got started older than most kids do now. I grew up in a rural area in Northern California where there were not club sports or anything like that and you really could not play any sports until you got to junior high. Maybe on Wednesdays for a couple of months they would have an open gym where kids could go and I remember going there when I was young. But it was not very organized.
:So I started playing in sixth grade. I was a competitive kid and active and I played all sports that they offered: volleyball, basketball track.
I was lucky enough in my first year in high school, they had hired a young new women's basketball coach . He was the new Math teacher. He was 24, but he had played college football at Humboldt. He was a great coach and he moved me up to the varsity level. He was my coach all four years.
My junior year of high school, he organized an AAU Team because there was none in our area or anywhere close. He took four girls from my high school team and we took one girl from each of the teams that were in our high school league. My dad was a UPS driver. He and a mom who was his coworker fundraised for us on their route. They raised all the money for four girls to go and play in tournaments and it paid for travel and all that.
That was when I first started getting seen by college coaches and from that point on, it was a whirlwind because I knew nothing about college and nothing about conferences and anything like that. So, I had a very pure recruiting process. I did not really know what to expect. My coach helped me with five questions to ask every coach that was calling. And in that process, I weeded out a lot of people and the rest is history. I went on some visits and made my choice. That was how basketball became a thing for me. RAY: If I recall correctly, you were California Player of the Year your senior year in high school.
KAYTE: I was. We won state that year. It is crazy because I am from such a small town. The only school there is a public school. And at that time, there were 350 kids in our school. That put us in division five, which in California is private schools.
We hosted a team from the Bay Area in the NorCal tournament playoffs and they called our school and asked what the exit off of the freeway was from the airport.
Well, our airport is a dirt runway, and here is this school coming and they are flying their team in and the lady in our office said, "Well, you take a right at the dirt road and you go down to Main Street. Just follow it to the end of town." And so, they came and we beat them and continued from there.
It was crazy. No one knew who I was, but I did end up getting that honor. I did not really understand at the time how rare that is for someone coming from my hometown.
I got asked to play in the Double Pump classic, which was the All-Star Game for California.
I went down for that. It had all the best players in California like Michelle Greco.
I felt very much out of the water and very overlooked.. No one knew who I was and I definitely did not have that level of respect. I kind of took it personally and I went out and just had myself a nice little game and ended up winning the MVP of the tournament.
It was funny in the walk-off interview for TV. They start talking to me and they called me Kayli. Apparently they had called me Kayli the entire game.
RAY: I hope it does not say that on your trophy. KAYTE: Thankfully no, but that puts in perspective how remote it is where I am from and how not a lot of people had their eye on me. RAY: What was your development like to become the player of the year as a senior? Was it gradual or were you dominant early on in high school? KAYTE: I was kind of dominant early on. I was young. I graduated high school at 17.
I was energetic and admittedly an erratic player when I was younger. My high school coach, Mr. Martin, is one of the most important people in my life and, at age 40, I still call him Mr. Martin.
I have a very close friendship with him and his family. He told me "you can call me Mike"and I said, "I know Mr. Martin". He was really good at developing talent and he was very hard-nosed as a coach and I needed that.
We would do simple drills. He put you on the elbows. He had the ball at the free-throw line and he would roll the ball down the floor and you would have to wait until he told you to go, and it was a two-on-two battle to see who could come up with the ball and there were no rules.
RAY: Now, they call that WWE.
KAYTE: Right. That was important to my development. It was the mentality more than anything. RAY: How did you decide to go to UC Santa Barbara?
KAYTE: It came down to the University of Oregon, Boise State and Santa Barbara. .The coaching staff and the school were the most important things. I come from a family of five kids and a very modest upbringing and my parents certainly could not afford to send me to college. So, I knew very early on that if I was going to get a degree, I would have to figure out a way to do it, and basketball was that way for me.
I may have been a better volleyball player. I had been invited to play on some volleyball club teams in San Francisco when I was in high school, but my family could not afford to send me. So, basketball became that avenue.
The head coach at UCSB, Mark French, had been there for years and that was also important to me. I did not want to go somewhere where potentially I would have a new coach during my career. They were very committed to him and his staff and he was very accomplished in terms of what he had done with that program over the years. This is what it came down to. It sounds very simple, but that was what was important to me. Every team there has study hall and freshmen have to go for several hours a day four days a week the first quarter at the end of the day of practice and classes.
After your first quarter,the number of days you have to be there is based on your GPA. The coaches each took one night. You would have your head coach sitting in the study hall with you for three to four hours. And then, an assistant coach the next night. To me, that was monumental because they were taking their personal time to develop people. When I went to Oregon, it was an unofficial visit. We were up there playing in an AAU Tournament and we were on our way back home. I had my whole AAU team with me and they wanted me to drop by and I came and they were very happy and proud of all the money that Nike gives them and what that affords them.
RAY: You were not quite ready to turn pro, right? KAYTE: Yes. They took me on kind of a tour and they went through the athletic building. They had a huge study hall for all the athletes. It was this big facility with computers and all that stuff, and I remember asking "who does study hall?" And the head coach Jody Runge looked at me and said, "Well, we have people that do that." RAY: That helped clinch it
KAYTE: Yes, just a flip remark like that.
It made me realize how you were prioritized as an athlete there rather than as a student.
The student-athlete component was very big at UCSB and it meant a lot to our coaches. And on the Oregon visit, the people there they not very kind to my teammates most of whom were otherwise never going to step on a college campus and see an athletic facility.
Those little moments really added up to me. So, that is how I ended up choosing UCSB.
I think it was a year or two into my college career, Jody Runge was fired at Oregon.
I ended up knowing some people at Oregon because they had grown up and played against one of my teammates at UCSB and they did not like her. Obviously, it led to her departure.
That was just affirmation of my gut feeling
. RAY: You obviously made the right choice. KAYTE: Yes RAY: You had a very good team at UCSB including teammates who also made it to the W. KAYTE: Unfortunately in January of my freshman year I broke a bone in my wrist, the smallest bone which gets the least amount of blood flow. So, I was out for four months in a cast and I was hoping to make it back for the first round of the NCAA. We were ranked tenth in the country that year and we ended up hosting the first round and we lost that game. I had a soft cast but they would not let me play.
RAY: You were Player of the Year in the Big West Conference KAYTE: Yes.. It is so weird. When they recruited me I had no idea that something like that was possible. Basketball was the tool to get an education. I remember hearing about the WNBA starting my junior year of high school and thinking that was really cool. But it never occurred to me. It was not like a goal. It was not a dream.
I was so narrow-minded, it was just school, school, school, school, school. Even through college, pro ball was not something that I was aiming at. My mentality was that I was going to give it my all while I was there. And so, I worked really hard at basketball. Practice was a serious thing for me.
So I ended up becoming a much better player than I ever imagined and never would have thought of becoming Conference Player of the Year or anything like that. But I was lucky. I worked for it and we were a good team. RAY: Did Coach French play a big role in your development?
KAYTE: Coach French was monumental in my development. I loved how he managed his staff. He had a really great staff including Cori Close who is the head coach at UCLA now and has been for some time and who has built a tremendous program at UCLA. Tony Newnan, who is on her staff, was also one of my assistant coaches at UCSB. Cori has brought a lot of UCSB people to her staff. That is a testament to Coach French and how he developed his assistant coaches.
He gave them a big responsibility. He did not micromanage. Coach French coached the defense and he let his coaches handle the rest of it. Cori Close and Tony Newnan were huge in terms of my offensive development. And Coach French was massive. He was a great defensive mind and a great motivator, but he was not a yeller. He preached balance in life.
His biggest impact on me was that yes, we have basketball but we have to have balance in our lives. School, relationship, those things. RAY That is very unusual.
KAYTE: Yes,. It was a testament to how he looked at us being there for those four years as offering a way that he could impact us for the rest of our lives. RAY: It seems like that, when you were being recruited, you sensed what that experience was going to be like, being there and working with him and his coaching staff.
KAYTE: Yes. They made it very clear and it was not manufactured.
During the recruiting process, it was very clear that they cared for us as young women and respected us, and really took to heart the role that they could have and the impact they could have on us going forward. RAY: Next was the W draft. What were your expectations prior to the draft?
KAYTE: First of all, my coaches had to fight tooth and nail to get me an invite to the combine.
Even being Conference Player of the Year, it was the Big West and I do not think a lot of people had a ton of respect for that. We kind of always got screwed over in seedings in the NCAA tournament. We would schedule out of conference games during conference play to try and strengthen our schedule. So they fought really hard to get me that invite and I did get the invite and I went. It was probably the first opportunity for a lot of scouts, WNBA coaches, and front offices to actually see me play.
Because I was not really their choice to be there, I was not really sure if I would be drafted. And so on draft day, I remember being at the apartment. My boyfriend was there. He was a volleyball player and we had just a bunch of friends over and we had made pancakes for everyone, and we just kind of stopped there to watch. I did not get picked, did not get picked, did not get picked. And then, in the third round Phoenix took me with the 40th pick.
The bizarre thing about that is that I really did not know anything about the WNBA. I did not know anything about the draft and how it worked. It was exciting to see my name and then it was "what now?" I had no idea what happens next.
I got a call from Seth Sulka who was the General Manager and he was so excited to have me. It happened really fast after that. I had just started the third quarter of my senior year of college and I had to leave, I had to turn around and leave and pack up and go.. I was a Classics major which is a super small kind of genre at UCSB, but very good.
A lot of the people in that program ended up going to Hollywood and working on the historical context in movies and things like that. It was such a small discipline where you can establish good relationships with your professors. Mine created independent study classes for me and I was in school full-time my first WNBA season. I was still going to school, I was finishing my degree.
I went down there to start training camp. Cynthia Cooper was our head coach and that was like nothing I had experienced.
She has definitely become a very good college-level coach, but she was fired partway through my first year. But I remember going through training camp and each time, there is a cut, there is a cut. You do not know what is happening. You just kind of show up and you do not know if you are going to be staying.
On the last day of cut, I get to our practice facility and I am like, what is going on? Like, when do we know. And I remember Lisa Harrison, she was a veteran. She played at Tennessee. She said, "You're here, aren't you?," and I said, "Yes." She is like, "Then, you are on."
There were 16 teams in the league at that time. So, there were 16 picks in each round. Only 12 of us in that draft made a final roster. So, not even every first pick made a final roster.
So, at that moment, I was kind of like, wow, like I am kind of lucky to be here. So, that was how the WNBA started for me.
RAY: You had an injury-plagued career.
I actually injured my back in my first year. I was with Phoenix for the majority of my career and they had an amazing medical and training staff. At that time, our trainer was Carolyn Griffin, and she was great. Robin Pound was our strength and conditioning coach and he was also the strength and conditioning coach for the Suns. He was hard-nosed. He calls himself the Messiah of fitness.
He is one of those people that respects people that work hard and take things seriously. So, he and I got along famously. The Mercury were so instrumental in caring for my back.
Two of our season ticket holders, Heidi Voight and Debbie Casper, are chiropractors and they have their own practice.
I ended up meeting them after a game at an autograph signing. They were just lovely people. I found out that they were chiropractors and I told them that I would love to learn more about their practice. They ended up becoming two of my best friends and they cared for my back. They lived just a mile away from where I lived. They would treat me whenever I needed treatment.
Just to go get my back adjusted would take an hour of heat and massgae. They did acupuncture. I had horrible migraines which they treated. Between the medical staff and Heidi and Debbie, I was able to maintain and manage.
The moment I left Phoenix is when everything went south with my back. RAY: Because you no longer had access to them?
KAYTE: Yes, I did not have access to that care and I did not have access to people that understood my limitation. For example, in Phoenix's training camp,they would not have me participate in two-a- days. I would do one practice a day and they would really manage the impact.
It is a real problem when you go somewhere new and you say that your back can't take two--day practices. RAY: They think you are being a prima donna.
KAYTE: Yes. You can look like you are trying to get out of work but that is not how I am built.
I think one of the reasons is because I am the type of person that cannot dial down. I am not going to go at 75%, there is only 100% for me.
In Phoenix,they were protecting me from myself in essence.
I hurt it the last two weeks of the season in my first year in Chicago and I was in bed for ten days. I could not walk. I could not even get out of bed. When the season ended was when I got hired with the Kings as an analyst. So that offseason I moved to Sacramento and I did physical therapy and treatment. But every time I would start working out and training, it would take about three days before my back went out again, and I could not walk.
At my year-end physical the doctor told me "Listen. Your back is bad enough." RAY: You wanted to be able to walk when you got older.
KAYTE: Yes. The one thing that really resonated with me is that he said "This is going to make pregnancy really hard for you because of how your back kind of flexes when you are pregnant to make room for the baby." That was very serious-- it resonated with me.
At that end-of-the-season physical, I had the back problem and they also discovered that I had a SLAP tear in both of my shoulders. I was very beat-up by that time. I had played six years in the WNBA. I was a very physical player so there was a lot of wear and tear on my body.
I had signed a guaranteed contract with them. So I had to go back to start the next season. I started training camp and in less than a week, I was back on bed rest. That is when they released. RAY: You had also played a lot internationally. Do you think that playing year-round took a big toll?
KAYTE: A hundred percent. It absolutely did. It is just about how much tread you are taking off your tires. When you go overseas, you get paid well because you are American.
RAY: So you need to be the star.
KAYTE: Yes. They practice a lot. It is not like the WNBA where you are playing multiple games a week. You play two games a week overseas. You practice every other day and when you are playing, they are expecting you to play 40 minutes, the whole game.
RAY: Even with a back problem
KAYTE: And we did not have the medical care. They certainly do not have the necessary medical care there. RAY: You had mentioned about your Classics major in college. Wasn't Coacht Paul Westhead a Shakespearean scholar?
KAYTE: Yes. RAY: Did that have any connection for you there?
KAYTE: I wish I would have known Paul better because that year in Phoenix, I came back. It was weird how things ended in Phoenix the year before. The team had to make a It was between me and one other player. I was well-aware of what was happening, but I had basically been reassured by our general manager what was going to happen at the end of that practice that day, that I would remain on the team and this other player would get released.
And then, that day in practice, this other player tore her knee up. And so, they could not waive her because she was injured. So, that is how my time there ended.
RAY: You had to go.
KAYTE: Yes, so I had to go. So, it was just kind of weird how that ended.
RAY That is weird because people would think, "Oh, the other player got hurt that means you get to stay."
RAY: But it worked the opposite.
KAYTE: I went to Houston the next season, which was Paul's first year in the league in Phoenix with the Mercury.
RAY: So you did not spend a lot of time with him. KAYTE: I started the year in Houston. I got waived at the end of camp and they told me, "We want to bring you back but we cannot bring you back until this date. Please do not sign with anyone else." And so I went back to Phoenix where I lived and I am waiting, waiting, waiting and I get a call from Houston and they have a medical exception rule and they had so many injured players that they could bring me back, and I flew into Seattle and played for them that day. I played until they had enough healthy players and then they had to let me go again. Then Phoenix contacted me to say that they wanted me back and I was like, "Absolutely." And thatwhen I joined Paul. I had missed their whole training camp. He has a very elaborate system. He was the he "Guru of go". I was there the rest of the season.
Right when I was about to enter his rotation and he was ready togive me a try, I found out that my dad had been in a bad accident. He had gotten kicked in the face by a horse and was in the hospital. They were obviously very concerned about it. He had five hundred stitches on his face and I had to leave.
I had to go be with my dad at the hospital and I was gone a week. I was a new player, it was midseason, he knew nothing about me. So, I did not really get to know Paul very well from a basketball perspective, but he was a very interesting and intriguing personality.
I got to know him better after that because he was very close with his assistant coach Corey Gaines who I eventually ended up dating for nine years.
So, that is how I got to know Paul better.
That is where I learned about his Shakespearean background and what a truly interesting man he is.. RAY: How did you transition to broadcasting?
KAYTE: I got a call from the Kings' director of broadcasting, Craig Amazeen. He said "I have got an opening here in Sacramento with the Kings for a pregame, half-time and postgame analyst. I know you have never done it before but I was wondering if you would be interested in meeting with me when you come to Sacramento to play the Monarchs." This is when I was in Chicago. I said 'Yes, absolutely." So, I met him and learned a little bit more about it.
Kara Lawson was the one that held the position and she was leaving to be with ESPN full-time. So I told him that I was interested. He said "Okay. On such and such a date we are going to have kind of a casting call in Los Angeles. We will fly you down there and we will do a demo segment with our host, Jim Kozimor. .
So, I flew down there. I came into into this room. There are 200 people in there for the audition. I was a little bit taken aback. I went in and did this demo segment and I think to this day they might still have it and I had fun.
Jim Kozimor is amazing. He is the easiest person to work with. I had fun and I got a call saying, "We would like to offer you a one-year contract."
Craig had spent time in Phoenix. So he knew the Suns' producer Bob Adlhock. While I was playing for the Suns, I would stay in Phoenix during the offseason and they would pay me to do work in the community for our team. The CBA at that time allowed for them to have one person on their payroll, a player to stay and promote the team during the offseason.
They had called me in a few times just to fill in on their pre-half and postgame show. . Craig called Bob and said, "Bob, do you know anybody that might..." He said, "Well, I do not know what she wants to do but give Kayte a call and see what she thinks." So, that is how I got started in broadcasting. RAY: It has not been continuous with the Kings, has it?
KAYTE: I was here for four years. After that one year contract, they did sign me to a three-year contract. So, I guess I passed the test. So I was here for four years, and in my third year, they got rid of the pre-half and post-game show and they moved me over to the sideline. At the end of that contract, the Maloofs did not want to retain me and they ended up hiring Jim Gray.
That was the end of my time in Sacramento and I did not know what to do. I was caught off-guard by the move. I did find out that multiple people fought for me to be able to keep the job including Craig Amazeen. Grant Napier went and met with the Maloofs in Vegas and said, "You are making a mistake. You need to keep her."
RAY: Not their only mistake.
KAYTE: Not their only one. I left. I did not know what to do. I was in a crisis mode and I decided to move to New York City. I packed up. I sold everything, including my car. I moved across the country. I had been working with ESPN doing college games while I was with the Kings, Craig Amazeen allowed that to happen, which was great for my development. I started working with ESPN when I went to New York, and I did a full college schedule. But that is only part of the year. And so while I was in New York, I worked as a bartender, a waitress. I had five jobs. I worked with a wedding planner because while I was in Phoenix playing I got certified to do that.. I went through a program. I worked with other planners. That was something I thought maybe I would like to do after I was finished playing. I was there for about a year, which was the lockout year. I went through the process of becoming a substitute teacher, which would have been quite an ordeal, I think.
I had just gotten my credentials when I got a call from the Suns. They said, "We are going to try something a little different. We want to hire you as a social media correspondent." That was around the beginning of social media becoming a bigger thing and they were trying to figure out ways to incorporate it as a potential new in-game broadcast position.
So, they brought me on to do that. Within a week I moved to Phoenix from New York. It was a super quick turn around because the lockout ended and games were starting in December. I moved out there and I did that season.
And at the end of that season, I was contacted by the Arizona Republic, which is also Channel 12 there. They wanted to hire me as a social media producer for the sports department on the print, online, and TV sides. They brought me in to do that and my focus was on developing a social media presence for all of their personalities and for their online presence and their TV presence.
They started using me on TV as well. I did Friday Night Fever, High School football and I would come on the news when there were big sports stories going on. That job was something new and different. I was not a fan of the social media reporting, They did not actually end up keeping that position. It was kind of a trial basis and I do not think they got anything out of it either.
So, I did that for a couple of years and that is when the Kings were sold and I got a call from Craig Amazeen who asked me if I would like my job back. RAY: The Maloofs were gone.
KAYTE: Yes. I said, "Absolutely." I have been back since 2013. RAY: When you did college games for ESPN, what was your role?
KAYTE: I was an analyst on game broadcasts
RAY: Do you have a preference among sideline, studio and game analyst roles? KAYTE: I love them all in different ways. I love the pre-half and post-game show because it is conversational and I love teaching. We do a lot of basketball breakdowns and I love doing those things.
The biggest compliments I get are from people, many of whom are women, who say, "You make me understand the game." RAY: As you can tell from the previous interviews in this series, analysts understanding their role is a big thing for me. For some I wonder if anyone ever told them or if they bothered to look in the dictionary to see what "analyst" means? Do you find it challenging to hit a happy medium where you do not want to be over the head of the casual fan while at the same time you do not want to bore the hardcore basketball person. KAYTE It does come up sometimes. COVID has changed how we prepare. P,reviously we didn't have day-before meetings. We might have had a phone call to talk about it individually. Now we have a Zoom prep meeting the day before every game, and it has everyone on it.: the editing people, the producers, the talent, the writers, everybody. James Ham is on our calls and he is obviously the insider. He writes for NBC Sports and sometimes he is on our show.
On those calls, there have been some comments recently about having to be careful about confusing the casual fan as we are talking about the type of breakdowns I want to do and what I am looking at. My job is to deliver this in a clear and concise way. I do not think that we should underestimate the knowledge of our fan base. I think that a lot of people know more than we give them credit for.
I do not want to dumb down our content. I do not want to be gimmicky. I just want to be true to the game. The more people understand it, the more they enjoy it. It is my job to make sure that I deliver in a way where it is not confusing, it is clear, but it is also not below people that have a higher kind of knowledge of the game. RAY:I would find that to be challenging to hit that in a manner that serves both extremes of the audience.
KAYTE: I had never thought about it as a challenge until recently
where it has come up in those prep calls.
I do ask my producer to tell me how I am doing and to let me know if I am overcomplicating things. RAY: I have watched your games with people who are basketball lifers and I have watched some games with casuals, and I have never heard one person say, "I am lost," or, "I am bored." It seems not to be a problem.
KAYTE: That is reassuring, I appreciate that. That is good to know. RAY: One of the central aspects that leads to success is preparation. I am shocked sometimes at the lack of the preparation done by some analysts, usually people who were big name players who go on to do national network games. It is very clear they have done no preparation. It is so bad that I am embarrassed for them. Didn't it occur to them to do a little bit of homework? Please tell me what you do to prepare because it is obvious to anybody watching that you have done extensive homework.
KAYTE: Gary Gerould preps more than anyone I have ever seen.
He is so diligent. Everyone does it differently and it is different based on the specifics of your job. The crazy thing about this season, for me personally, is that I am now doing pre-half and postgame show full-time as well doing sidelines full-time.
I have never done that before other than just a game or two when they needed it. I prep differently for each role. I prep for both for each game. So, my prep is definitely more now than it has been in the past couple of seasons.
It has evolved.. When I started in the league, it was hours and hours and hours, and I would spend l two months before the season even started breaking down rosters of each team, making sure that I had a background on each player because I was new to the NBA.
I did not know the NBA. I was not watching it on a consistent basis. I did not know the players. I certainly did not watch college men's basketball. So, I had to develop a knowledge base.
So, it sustained me through my career now until I was in the league long enough to become familiar.
. I had to get to know the players, the coaches and front office personnel. Now that is just a part of my knowledge base. So, as a result, my prep has changed Sideline is by far the hardest job that I have ever done. You are on air for 45 seconds each hit, and you have four hits a game. That is not a lot of time on-air, but I appreciate that they use me as another analyst in that role.
They give me the ability to choose the things that I see as important and break those things down. We call my fourth quarter hit the analyst hit because I choose during the course of a game that which sticks out to me as important. If there is something I am seeing, I will text our video editor to go clip that. He will make a package for me so that I can talk about that in the fourth quarter and say this is what has or has not happened. This is something to look for as the game plays out here in the eight or nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
How I prep for that is different. I have to find all this information, what is relevant to the game, what I think is important, something that I think the game broadcast is not going to be covering. The prep sheets that I send to our producer can be seven pages long. I tell him what I am looking for and he will go through them and say, "How about this, this, and this?," and those are the three things that I will cover in the first half of the game. RAY: When I interviewed Tim Legler, he said roughly the same thing. Whereas most people in his position rely on the production staff to pick the highlights to feature, he pointed out that it makes his job so much easier and so much better to be able to tie the three things that he picked out together to make his point. It sounds like you are saying almost exactly the same thing.
KAYTE: I like it because they allow me to look at the game and report on what I think is relevant.
And this is not a criticism of anyone. Everyone is used differently. It depends on who they work with and their background. I am different than most people who do my job because I played at a professional level.
I appreciate that they allow me to use my knowledge base to focus on the things that I know. I could go out there and report about the Kings going to St. Jude's and spending three hours at the Children's Hospital, which is a great story. But it is also not focused on the game itself. Not everyone can do what I am doing.
RAY: That would be a waste of your talents, your background and your understanding of the game.
KAYTE: They see me for me and they utilize the things that I do well.
You were asking about the differences among those three jobs. Sideline is the most difficult because you want to add something truly valuable to the game broadcast. Once you figure out what that is, you have to pare it down and deliver it in a way that comes across well without overwhelming the listener. Early on as sideline reporter I would give too many stats, too much information and people sometimes got lost.
It has been an evolution developing in that role. I also loved being an analyst on a game broadcast. I have not done it for years and it is something that I want to get back into when the post-COVID world allows for it. RAY That would be great. I would watch every game you do, regardless of who was playing. KAYTE: I would love to get back into it and just exercise my chops at the college level. I would love the opportunity at some point, and there are so many wonderful women that are doing it in the NBA and the sports world as game analysts . Sarah Kustok in Brooklyn, for example, is wonderful RAY: I interviewed her for this series.
KAYTE: She is one of my favorite people. I just love her as a human being.
RAY: She is great.
KAYTE: She does a tremendous job. She got a great opportunity in Brooklyn: a huge market with a great team. Look at how they are using her and allowing her to be in this environment. I would love at some point to have that type of opportunity.
RAY: That would be awesome.
KAYTE: I have to practice at it. I have to be better. I have to exercise.
I need to step out and start exploring again, doing college games and fitting it into my schedule and taking those opportunities because I want to continue to grow in my profession. RAY: You mentioned Kara Lawson. She is coaching now, but she is one of the very best.
KAYTE: Super knowledgeable, yes.
RAY: An any level. I used to watch games just because she was the analyst. She and Sarah are each excellent. I like Stephanie Ready as well. She is another person I interviewed for this series. You talked about the pandemic. What has it been like with no fans? How has that experience been different for you? KAYTE: Once you get over the change and the feel and the environment that you are working in, you adjust to it. I feel for the players because it takes away from their enjoyment and their experience. Having fans present is such a help to players. I know how important it is to have fans behind you.
When Tyrese Haliburton got his first start, I felt badly for him. I remembered my first WNBA start. I remember that feeling. It was in Madison Square Garden. It was a sold-out crowd. I got my second start the next night in DC in front of a sold-out crowd. And feeling those people around you, you cannot even describe it. I felt for him when he did not have that experience. But from a broadcasting perspective, for me, I am in my own little world. I am so focused. I am always looking at numbers and watching the game, and getting ready for my next hit, and getting ready for halftime. I am so busy from the moment I get to the arena that I kind of go into my own world.
I do miss the fans that would walk by and talk to me in my little corner at Golden One. I do miss those interactions and I miss having them up on the Concourse for our show because they add energy to it for sure.
But for me in terms of work, it does not really change anything for me.
RAY: . What changes or trends since you have been doing the games stand out to you?
KAYTE: Analytics has changed everything in the sport, including from a broadcast perspective. You asked earlier about how I prepare for games. That has changed dramatically with analytics. Before it was a lot of watching film and watching the players and teams that we were about to play kind in advance.
Now I more watch highlights of games instead of sitting down and watching three entire games. The biggest change has been figuring out how to maneuver, discover, and use analytics in the game.
I just am such an old-school basketball person. I will break down what you see on the floor. Before, I would never have thought to look up Buddy Hield's three-point shooting percentage when he takes zero dribbles, one dribble, three dribbles.
Now that is such a part of the world. It changes how I deliver my content because it does give you a deeper understanding and look at the game. Before I could have told you that he is a better catch and shoot player and that if he has to put the ball on the floor that is not optimal for him. But now, I can back it up with when he catches and shoots, he is shooting 62% from three. When he takes one dribble, he is shooting 11%
RAY: It would be nice if someone told him that.
KAYTE: It allows you to deliver the content in a way that is more valuable for the viewer and the listener.
RAY: Analytics are proliferating. So much of it is so useful and interesting but some of it is useless. An analyst has to find the sweet spot.
KAYTE: Yes. RAY: Finding the information that matters while making your way through the irrelevancies is critical. I am a big believer in it and it does add tremendously to the game, but you have to be able to differentiate between the interesting and useful as opposed to the nonsense or garbage.
KAYTE: A hundred percent. We have had several years now to become familiar with what is good and what isn't.
Our producer Rohin Das is phenomenal at his job. One of the things I miss about the normal world is traveling. Our whole crew traveled together: our graphics guy, our director, our producer, our tape editor, Those four and I would be on the road. We had those conversations when you go to dinner as a group and talk basketball. Those things are beneficial and I miss that. That was part of the process where we learn and grow together. Rohin is so good at, in the course of a normal basketball conversation, saying "Kayte, that is what I need you to bring. This is the content that is going to be beneficial for our show. Just like you are sitting here just talking shop with us. This is how I need you to deliver it."
There is the happy medium between overdelivering analytics because you think that is the trend and the sweet spot of figuring out how a stat will help you deliver something that backs up what you see.
RAY: The way you do it is very rewarding for the viewer. I appreciate that it is about the viewer, not about you.
KAYTE: You need to be entertaining, but you are not an entertainer.
There is the fun of viewers identifying with you and forming a relationship with you. They get to know you.
as a human being, as a person and they enjoy you on the show. But we are not doing a variety show here. To me the game is always the most important. RAY: You have to enhance the presentation with your personality, put your own stamp on it, but that is not the same thing as thinking that somehow you are the show. KAYTE: Yes. By the way, I love how your Basketball Intelligence site works.
I have made a separate folder in my email account, just so that every time I see the BI email I drag it to that folder so I can go back through there when I need to. When I first saw how you had it set up, I thought, "Wow! This is going to be very helpful." RAY: Thanks so much. I appreciate that. KAYTE: This season my schedule has been so brutal
RAY: Does it help not to have to do so much traveling for the games? KAYTE: Well, I travel to San Francisco whenever the Kings are on the road. I get to the studio four hours before we go on air. When we have a Sunday with a 12 o'clock start, I have to be in San Francisco by 8:00 a.m.
We also asked Kayte to name her all-WNBA teammate & opponent teams as well as her Kings all-stars & all-opponents from the time she has been with the team. Here are her selections: All-Teammate Diana Taurasi Stacy Dales Bridget Pettis Jennifer Gillom Dawn Staley All-Opponent Tina Thompson Lauren Jackson Katie Smith Lisa Leslie Tamika Catchings Kings Top 5 during my time Mike Bibby DeMarcus Cousins Ron Artest (Metta World Peace now but was Ron Artest when I covered him) De’Aaron Fox Iman Shumpert All-Opponent NBA Kobe Bryant Tim Duncan LeBron James Damian Lillard Steph Curry