How Much Do NBA Commentators Make on Average?

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If you’re a die-hard fan of the NBA, you’ve probably noticed that commentators play a much more significant role in the game than in other sports. From Marv Albert’s iconic “bang” calls to Reggie Miller’s “Kodak Moment,” announcers bring a lot of excitement to the game. 

In addition, they provide analysis and commentary on the players and the game itself and often add humor to the mix.

But have you ever wondered how much NBA commentators make? It’s a challenging job, after all. So, let’s look at the role of NBA commentators, what it takes to become one, and how much they make on average.

The Role of NBA CommentatorsThe Role of NBA Commentators

NBA commentators play an essential role in making watching NBA games engaging for all viewers. This means they give context for casual fans who’ve just decided to watch a random game and update superfans about the latest news on their favorite teams.

So, if you want to find out how to become an NBA commentator, here’s a glance into the other roles you’ll need to accomplish as one:

  • Provide analysis and insight during live broadcasts of basketball games
  • Conduct interviews with players and coaches
  • Provide background information on teams and players
  • Offer predictions for the outcome of the game
  • Report on the latest news and developments in the league
  • Make the game more engaging for the audience

Because good commentators provide deep insights, many commentators have played basketball at a high level themselves, whether in the collegiate or the professional ranks, giving them a unique perspective that casuals might not think about. 

It’s no surprise then that you’ll often find retired NBA players moving on to commentating. Former players often have relevant and fresh information on the league and in the locker rooms, which fans love.

What Does it Take to Become a Commentator in the NBAWhat Does it Take to Become a Commentator in the NBA?

Even if you have a background or a college degree in journalism or broadcasting, you still need a few out-of-classroom knowledge to start calling games. Therefore, it would be best if you had more skills and qualifications.

Qualifications and Requirements

Before a person can even be considered for a job as an NBA commentator, one must have these basic qualifications:

  • In-depth knowledge and understanding of the game of basketball
  • Familiarity with current events and players in the league
  • Background in broadcasting or public speaking
  • Clear voice and ability to speak eloquently

Commentators must be able to understand the sport’s intricacies and communicate that knowledge to the fans. This is why commentators often have deep love, knowledge, and experience playing basketball themselves.

Commentators also need to have a strong broadcasting voice and be able to articulate their thoughts clearly. They must be able to engage with the viewers and keep them entertained throughout the broadcast.


The great thing about a commentator’s skillset requirements is that they’re not just taught in the classroom but also learned through experience with the game. For example, an NBA vet like Charles Barkley can be a great commentator right off retirement because of the wealth of his experience playing at the highest levels of the sport. 

So, here are some of the skills that an aspiring commentator need to hone before they can do it in the big league:

  • Strong communication and presentation skills
  • Writing skills for pre- and post-game analysis and commentary
  • Ability to tell compelling stories and engage with fans
  • Good sense of humor and the ability to entertain

In addition, you need to have an excellent working knowledge of the teams and players in the league. Finally, you should be able to provide insightful commentary on their performances and give the viewers an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes.

How Much Do NBA Commentators MakeHow Much Do NBA Commentators Make?

Becoming an NBA commentator takes a lot of work. So, it’s only natural that they’re paid well.

NBA commentators are paid very well. According to the New York Post, Stephen A. Smith is one of the highest paid NBA commentator with a contract with ESPN that brings in about $12 million for the broadcaster per year. Newcomers, on the other hand, are paid an average of around $80,000 per year, according to Sports Scriber.

This is because the NBA is a very popular league with a large global audience. In addition, commentators often have other sources of income, such as endorsements and appearances.

5 Most Famous NBA Commentators5 Most Famous NBA Commentators

The National Basketball Association has become one of the most watched and globally beloved sports leagues. With this massive rise in popularity, commentators have also seen their fame rise.

Famous NBA reporters are now household names to many fans around the world. These reporters work hard reporting on game results and player stats, as well as providing analysis of hot topics that drive discussion among basketball fanatics. More than ever, reporters are more than just talking heads in a television studio – they are now stars in their own right!

Here are 5 of the most famous NBA commentators:

1. Ernie Johnson Jr.

Ernie Johnson Jr. has been a staple of Turner Sports since 1989, garnering well-deserved success along the way as an NBA commentator and two-time Sportscaster of the Year award winner. His signature show, “Inside the NBA,” won him an Emmy Award and received several other prestigious nominations throughout his career. Today, Ernie is one of the highest-paid commentators in professional basketball, with a salary estimated at $5 million annually!

2. Jeff Van Gundy

Jeff Van Gundy is another well-known NBA commentator who currently works for ESPN. He has also worked as a head coach for several NBA teams, including the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. Van Gundy is known for his candid and often controversial opinions on the game. He is reportedly taking home an annual salary of $1 million.

As a former head coach with a winning record of 57.5% out of 748 games, Van Gundy is privy to a lot of inside information and can provide viewers with unique insights into the game. His unique takes often become controversial, which is always good for the ratings.

3. Mark Jackson

Mark Jackson is a former NBA player and head coach who is now one of the most popular commentators in the league. Jackson works for ABC and ESPN and is best known for his work covering the NBA Finals. Jackson is known for his insightful and often humorous commentary on basketball. He is one of the highest-paid commentators in the NBA, with an annual salary of $6 million.

4. Marv Albert

Marv Albert is a legendary NBA icon who is known as one of the best NBA commentators to ever live. He’s often called as the “Voice of the NBA.” 

He is a beloved basketball icon who has had the rare honor of getting enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a broadcaster. He retired in 2021.

He’s also one of the most engaging broadcasters in the business and is best known for his iconic catchphrases, such as “Yes!” and “Bang!”.

His long stint as an NBA commentator has helped him gain some unique insights into the game. As a result, Albert is considered one of the most influential commentators in the history of the NBA with a salary of $2 million when he retired..

5. Doris Burke

Renowned NBA commentator Doris Burke is a familiar face on ESPN and ABC, where she provides her astute observations and witty commentary. Reportedly making up to $1 million each year in salary, Burke is one of the most sought-after commentators in basketball today.

Wrapping Things Up: How Much Do NBA Commentators Make on Average?

Becoming an NBA commentator is no easy feat – it takes years of hard work and dedication to build a career. You must be knowledgeable not just about the game but also about the players and teams.

A commentator must also have a clear speaking voice, as well as a passionate style when it comes to calling games. When all these qualities are combined, a truly amazing commentator emerges, one with the potential to make big money due to their talent and expertise in the field. It’s not easy getting there, but the reward can be greatly fulfilling for those who make it all the way to the top!

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

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