Pro basketball to broadcasting: Jay Bilas talks his triple threat of a career

Jay Bilas on the pregame show

Jay Bilas began color commentary for ESPN in 1995 after a four-year Duke basketball career, three professional seasons overseas, and three years assisting his former coach, Mike Krzyzewski. 

At one point, he considered waiting out Coach K’s tenure and succeeding him, but it was a good decision to change career paths, as he would have been waiting a long time. Instead, Jon Scheyer will take the reins in the hardest act to follow in sports history.

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“He got goosebumps whenever he’d talk about winning a championship,” Bilas said about Coach K. “If you do it your way, succeed or fail, you can look at yourself in the mirror and feel good about it.”

Bilas, who joined this week’s episode of GOLF’s Subpar Podcast to talk his career, pro golf and more, has had a unique journey to the present. He pursued a law degree while coaching, but gave it up when he began broadcasting. 

“My first job was working the PGA Championship at Riviera Country Club that Hal Sutton won [in 1983]. I did Monday Night Baseball, the 1984 Olympics, I did bowling events, all kinds of stuff. It kind of wet my appetite for it,” he said.

He then pursued law while broadcasting for seven years, but finally decided he would have to choose just one, and it’s obvious which path he chose. (He still has the proper credentials to practice, though.)

“Now, I’m probably the least valuable lawyer in the entire firm,” Bilas said. 

A basketball player at heart, Bilas travels the country covering NCAA basketball, but his love for golf often makes itself known. When asked what his favorite college basketball destination, he said Allen Fieldhouse at Kansas. 

“It’s the St. Andrews of Basketball.”

You can check out the entire interview with Bilas below.

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