Sixers Exclusive: Kate Scott Shattering Ceilings, Channeling Allen Iverson

Kate Scott

NBC Sports Philadelphia New Philadelphia 76ers play-by-play announcer Kate Scott will make her NBA debut on Oct. 7.

Kate Scott joked that people in Philadelphia only pretend to be mean to keep the property values down. She visited the city many times while doing college broadcasts for the Pac-12 Networks, never having a single boo or popcorn kernel hurled at her. The California native – Clovis, near Fresno – never understood the bad reputation.

Scott can’t articulate enough positive adjectives about her new home after signing on to succeed Marc Zumoff as the “Voice of the Philadelphia 76ers.” It would be a dream job for anyone, but the gig means even more for a girl who imagined she was Allen Iverson while shooting hoops in the driveway. Scott was built for this.

“I was always hearing the same stuff he [Iverson] was hearing growing up,” Scott told Heavy. “You’re too short, you don’t belong, go play somewhere else, right? So even though we obviously don’t look or sound anything alike, the way that he just put his head down and worked, he was kind of like ‘I’m here and I’m gonna kick your a**, so either figure out a way to beat me or deal with it.’ I just love that swagger and his attitude and that really spoke to me.”

Now she’ll be speaking to Sixers fans on an almost nightly basis – 73 of their 82 regular-season games, plus two preseason contests – and shattering ceilings in the process. Scott will become the first female play-by-play announcer in Philly sports history when she calls her first game on Oct. 7. And the first person not named Marc Zumoff to do it since 1994. No pressure, right?

“There’s always butterflies, but somebody told me early in my career that if you’re not nervous for things like this, then maybe you don’t care enough,” Scott told Heavy. “But it’s always good nerves because once you dive into that open it’s just kind of like being an athlete. Once the ball tips off you’re into the game and you’re doing what you’ve been doing for years.”

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Breaking Gender Stereotypes, Making NBA History

Forget Philadelphia sports history, Scott’s presence in the Sixers’ broadcast booth is knocking down medians coast to coast. She is the NBA’s second female play-by-play announcer – and missed out on being the first by nine days after the Milwaukee Bucks hired Lisa Byington on Sept. 15 – and the responsibility attached to that are not lost on the talented 38-year-old.

“I know how much this means to a lot of other people out there,” Scott told Heavy. “I take that responsibility extremely, extremely seriously. Because I know 20 years ago, I didn’t think I could do this because there was so few women doing it. It was all white men.”

In her first meeting with head coach Doc Rivers, the two rapped in his office and discussed the human element. Basketball was a footnote. They sat across from each other for 15 minutes or so, barely mentioning a single name on the Sixers’ roster, and Rivers invited her back to watch weekly film sessions.

“I think he put it really well when he said, ‘Look, I didn’t set out to be the first black anything and I’m sure you didn’t set out to be the first woman anything,” Scott recalled of that conversation. “We’re just doing what we love, and this has been the next step in each of our journeys, so I completely agreed and that obviously got us off to a great start.”

Scott wants to be known as the “TV Voice of the Sixers” instead of “The Woman Announcer on Sixers Broadcasts.” And Zumoff – her support rock and sounding board – already provided the blueprint on how to win over the Philly faithful during a recent lunch meeting. It’s simple, really.

“He told me, ‘If you love the city and the team, they’re going to love you back. Just let your passion for the sport and for the team shine through and you won’t have any problems.'”

One more thing: Scott promised to keep a few favorite “Zooisms” in her holster as an “homage to a guy who has meant so much to me.” She wouldn’t reveal which ones but teased a social media contest where she might ask Sixers fans to help her decide. As far as adding her own catch-phrases: “We’ll just see. We’re going to discover them together.”

Openly Gay and Proud, Another First in Sports

Ken Schultz of Outsports wrote an eye-opening article last January detailing the lack of openly gay play-by-play voices in professional sports. In it, he attempted to highlight the biggest LGBQT+ names in the industry except he couldn’t track down any save for one minor league hockey announcer. Sad but true.

Enter Kate Scott. She is openly gay and married to her loving partner, Nicole, after the two met in a gay dance club. Being in a same sex relationship and trying to infiltrate the machismo world of sports seemed daunting when she came out to her mom at the age of 21.

“My mom started crying when I first told her,” Scott said. “And she just said it, ‘Do you know any openly gay sportscasters right now?’ And I paused and I said, ‘No, I don’t, mom.’

Her mom’s tears were supportive yet nervous. She knew her daughter wanted to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. Guess what? She did. And she made it to the highest level. 

“If I can be that first and maybe make the conversation go a little bit easier for a kid who is coming out to their parents,” Scott said, “and give them some calm and confidence because they’ll be able to point to me as someone who has succeeded in the industry while being open about my sexuality and who I am, then I’m going to do that. So I made that pact with myself, gosh, 17 years ago now.”

Again, don’t think Scott is doing any of this for herself. She’s not. It just so happens that “privilege” – her words, not mine – make the Cal-Berkeley grad the brightest beacon of hope for those who don’t even know they want to be the next great sportscaster.

“I’m not out for me,” Scott said. “Obviously, I love my wife and I’m very proud of her but you know I have a ton of privilege when it comes to being gay. I want to show anybody who is a part of the LGBQT+ community who wants to do this that, ‘Hey, I’m out and I’m living my life openly and that hasn’t seemed to hold me back from anything that I’ve wanted to do.'”

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