CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — History will be made in the NBA next season, as an announcer with longtime Chicago ties pulls off a broadcasting first.

The defending NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks are bucking the status quo, as they bring on Lisa Byington as the first woman to do full-time TV play-by-play for a major men’s pro sports team.

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“The response has been overwhelming and positive, and I’ve gotten messages from everyone from like Billie Jean King – which made me stop for a second, because you talk about a female pioneer,” Byington said.

CBS 2’s Marshall Harris asked Byington what she thinks her hiring does for the overall possibilities for everyone out there.

“I think it opens up the door, and I think it’s important – you know, you mentioned the little girl watching – but I think it’s equally important for the little boy who’s watching as well. You have a first, to get a second, to get a third, to get a fourth, and eventually, maybe this is a generational change for it to feel normal,” Byington said. “But eventually, we have to get there. We’ve got to get to the point where a female voice on a men’s game is like background noise, and we don’t think twice about who that announcer is because it’s a female voice.”

Byington is a former two-sport star at Northwestern University, playing Wildcats basketball and soccer. She is also a current Chicago Sky broadcaster.

Earlier this year, Byington became the first female play-by-play broadcaster for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. She was a men’s and women’s soccer play-by-play announcer for NBC Sports in the 2021 Olympics and also did play-by-play for the Women’s World Cup on Fox in 2019.

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Byington worked as a sideline reporter for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on CBS and Turner Sports from 2017-19. She also has been a play-by-play broadcaster on NBA and WNBA games.

She became the first female play-by-play broadcaster for a Big Ten Network college football game in 2017.

She was actually calling an Illinois game on the Big Ten Network when she found out she had the Bucks job.

In her online biography, Byington noted that she started out in broadcasting at CBS affiliate WBKB-TV 11 in Alpena, Michigan. You might recognize that station’s call letters have Chicago roots – first at part-time CBS affiliate Channel 4 before CBS 2 was founded in 1953, then at ABC 7 before that station changed call letters to WLS-TV in 1968. But Alpena is a world apart from Chicago; as Byington noted, it is the one of the very smallest televisions markets in the country.

Byington went on to spend the next decade at CBS affiliate WLNS-TV 6 in Lansing, Michigan, where she worked with CBS 2’s Brad Edwards. There, Byington wrote, she “I chased down a ton of high school human-interest stories and state titles, juggled that with the college sports scene from East Lansing to Ann Arbor, and I got my feet wet covering all of the Detroit pro sports teams at some point or another.”

Byington has broadcast games for FOX Sports, FS1, Big Ten Network, CBS Sports, Turner Sports, Pac-12 Network, ESPN, and the SEC Network in both play-by-play and reporter roles.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Marshall Harris