Stephanie Ready no stranger to history as NBA's first female full-time analyst

Stephanie Ready: First full-time female NBA analyst
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Story highlights

  • Stephanie Ready works as a full-time analyst for the Charlotte Hornets on FOX Sports Southeast
  • Ready was the first woman to coach a men's professional sports team when she was an assistant in the NBDL
  • On how it feels to be the first full-time female NBA analyst: "Awesome"

(CNN)Trailblazing isn't new for Stephanie Ready.

Her most recent accomplishment? Breaking yet another glass ceiling in the sports world. She works as a full-time analyst for the Charlotte Hornets on FOX Sports Southeast and is the first full-time female NBA game analyst for a team's local broadcast.
However, after starting her new job, Ready, in a sit-down interview with CNN's Andy Scholes in late October, says she hasn't seen the Hornets' owner -- Naismith Memorial Basketball hall of famer Michael Jordan -- in person. But do not take that to mean that arguably the best basketball player of all time doesn't approve of her new role.
    "Anybody who knows anything about Michael knows that he's in control of what he operates," Ready said. "People think that he doesn't have his hands on the business? Well, they're wrong about that, and there's nothing that happens within the Hornets organization that does not get his stamp of approval, so I feel very confident in knowing that he thinks it's a good idea."
    Ready is no stranger to making history. She was the first woman to coach a men's professional sports team when she was an assistant coach with the NBA Development League's Greenville Groove in 2001. Before that, she was the third female on a Division I men's basketball staff when she was an assistant at Coppin State for two seasons; she also was the first woman to be a full-time recruiting assistant. Ready was a four-year starter on the Coppin State women's team from 1994 to 1998.
    This is Ready's 12th season on Hornets telecasts; previously she was the host of "Hornets LIVE!" and was an in-game sideline reporter. She now works with play-by-play announcer Eric Collins and analyst Dell Curry, a former standout Hornets player.
    Ready said that coaching in the NBDL prepared her for broadcasting.
    "That experience was a once-in-a-lifetime situation," Ready said. "Not only because I was so young and starting out in my coaching career -- that was the fourth year I had ever coached in any sport -- but it taught me a lot about the game of basketball. It taught me a lot about the business side of basketball, and it also just made me tougher."
    It undoubtedly has been a breakthrough year for women in sports.
    Becky Hammon and Nancy Lieberman are assistant coaches for the NBA's San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings, respectively. This summer, Hammon led the Spurs to the Las Vegas Summer League title as a head coach. Jen Welter, when she worked with the Arizona Cardinals inside linebackers during training camp and the preseason, was believed to be the first woman to hold a coaching position of any kind in the NFL. Sarah Thomas is the NFL's first female official.
    And this summer, softball Olympic gold medalist Jessica Mendoza became the first woman to call an MLB game as an in-booth analyst.

    'She's played ... she's done her homework'

    Ready said it feels "awesome" to take this this step.
    "It's the reason why I got into sports broadcasting in the first place, and to finally achieve a goal that you've set from years ago, it just feels tremendous," Ready said.
    Ready said that she has found that most of the people she interacts with have been extremely positive. That includes Hornets players.
    "I think it's amazing, man," Hornets forward Marvin Williams said. "It's a true testament to how hard she works, how good she is at her job, and I think a lot of women out there as well as young girls should be inspired by her hard work and her accomplishments."
    That's not to say that Ready hasn't had detractors.
    "There's always going to be that one knucklehead that just has nothing better to do," Ready said. "I've been really pleased with the support and the encouragement that the NBA and the Hornets fans have expressed, and the one or two people that think that women should stay in the kitchen, well, the world's passing them by."
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    And, of course, there are those who that use the tired line, "She never played in the NBA."
    Ready has an answer for that.
    "I can't speak to it exactly, because I've never lived that exact life," Ready said. "But I've been hearing that criticism since I was coaching. There are plenty of examples of head coaches, present and past, that did not play in the NBA -- that did not even play in college, some of them. You work your way up from being a college manager to an NBA head coach, and if you happen to be a man, no one questions that path."
    It's clear that the Hornets organization doesn't question Ready's knowledge of the game.
    "She's played," NBA Hall of Famer and Hornets assistant coach Patrick Ewing said. "She's done all the work. She's done her homework. She's studied her craft. She's good at it. That's the bottom line. She's good at it."
    Curry, her fellow analyst, is sold, too.
    "Whoever doesn't think she's qualified for the job, come ask me or ask any player or coach in the men's locker room," Curry said. "They know that she's qualified and she can do the job."
    And, of course, it's always good to know that His Airness is in your corner.
    "It's pretty awesome," Ready said with a smile.