How Allie Clifton became first woman to call Lakers game: She had 60 hours to prepare

Allie Clifton got the call early Monday morning.

Was she interested in filling in for Lakers color analyst Stu Lantz on Spectrum SportsNet in approximately 60 hours?

Clifton is a veteran TV journalist who has served as a co-host for Spectrum SportsNet’s in-studio programming since 2018. She also has had plenty of experience in a broadcast booth as a commentator.

Clifton accepted the offer — then immediately started preparing for the job.

“I believe in hard work, so when I got the call at 7:30 on Monday morning, my mind certainly went into that mode,” Clifton told The Times. “It was a different kind of preparation from when I’m in the studio and doing those assignments, but it is something that’s not foreign to me in terms of work. That’s exactly what I do and what I pride myself on.”

When Clifton took the seat next to play-by-play announcer Bill Macdonald for the Lakers’ game against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, she was going to make history.

Clifton became the first woman to call a game on a Lakers broadcast, and it came in a 138-122 win on the road.

“It was a whirlwind of an evening in the best ways possible,” said Clifton, who has called games for the Sparks and at CIF State championship games. “It was a joy. I truly had a blast and I’m so, so, so grateful for the opportunity.”

The significance of what she had done didn’t really sink in until the next day.

“This morning I was thinking back about it and I actually got pretty emotional,” Clifton said. “I think of the opportunity and how awesome it was just to be a part of it, you know? I never would have dreamed to be in this situation or to have been given an opportunity.

“I got texts from different people last night saying that there’s little girls that now think that they can do this. And that’s what it’s all about. That’s why I think I walked away just feeling so humble and grateful because I do it for them. I’m very inspired by that, and I think that’s one of the biggest takeaways for me.”

Lantz missed the last two Lakers games while recovering after “a routine medical procedure,” the team said. Lakers legend and Spectrum SportsNet studio analyst James Worthy filled in during the team’s 125-111 win over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night.

Lauren Lamkin, Lakers vice president of communications and marketing, said in an email to The Times that Lantz should be back soon after the All-Star break. But, she added, the team “would welcome the opportunity to have Allie fill in again, if needed.”

Clifton played basketball at the University of Toledo for four seasons before becoming a field reporter for the triple-A Toledo Mud Hens. She went on to spend six years with Fox Sports Ohio as a sideline reporter for Cleveland Cavaliers games, covering LeBron James in his second stint with his hometown team.

On Wednesday night, James gave Clifton a shoutout on X (formerly Twitter), writing “Super happy and proud @RealAClifton,” along with numerous clapping-hands and fire emojis.

Clifton got choked up talking about James’ tweet the next day.

“I was new in the profession, fairly new — it was just my third year when he came back [to the Cavaliers] and he showed me a different side of that grind,” said Clifton, who also served as an analyst for one game with the Cavaliers. “And he believed in me too, so to kind of see that [tweet] — I mean, he’s a dear friend of mine at this point. I’ve covered him now for a decade and it’s awesome, you know? I’m very humbled by that.”

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