May 22, 1961
New York City, U.S.
|Sports commentary career
Michael Breen (born May 22, 1961) is an American play-by-play sports commentator. He has been the lead announcer for NBA games on ABC and ESPN since 2006, including the NBA Finals. He is also the lead announcer for New York Knicks games on the MSG Network. Breen previously called NFL regular season games for both NFL on Fox and NFL on NBC, as well as New York Giants preseason games.
Breen was raised in Yonkers, New York and attended St. Paul the Apostle Catholic grammar school. He is a 1979 graduate of Salesian High School, and a 1983 graduate of Fordham University.
Breen started doing play-by-play for the Marist College Red Foxes basketball team in 1985. From 1991 to 1997 he worked with the Knicks as a radio announcer for WFAN. For the 1997–98 season, Breen was promoted to television play-by-play for the Knicks, as Marv Albert was fired from MSG Network following his infamous sex scandal. Upon Albert's return in 1999, he became his backup on MSG Network and continued as the lead announcer on WFAN. In 2004 he became the lead Knicks play-by-play following Albert's second dismissal from the network.
For the 1998 NBA playoffs, Breen joined NBC as a backup play-by-play announcer, and he remained in that role until the end of the network's coverage of the league in 2002. He joined ESPN as the number 3 announcer for the 2003–04 NBA season. In February 2006, with the departure of Al Michaels from the network, ABC announced that Breen would take over as the lead broadcaster for the NBA, including the NBA Finals. In the 2006–2007 season, he was part of the lead broadcast team with Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson as analysts, and the trio has been calling games until Van Gundy and Jackson's dismissal from the network amid ESPN's layoffs.
Breen is known for yelling the word "BANG!" (or others such as "It's good!" or "Puts it in!") after a key shot is made, usually very late in the game. Famous "Bang!" calls include Stephen Curry's game-winning 38-foot three-point shot vs. Oklahoma City in February 2016, Ray Allen's game-tying shot against San Antonio, and Luka Doncic’s game-winning buzzer-beater in overtime against the Clippers in the 2020 playoffs. Mike Breen's famous "BANG!" call originated from his time at Fordham University. Breen explains that as a fan in the stands, he used to yell "BANG!" when a player would nail a big shot. He then decided to test the saying out in the booth when announcing games; he got an immediate positive reaction and stuck with it all throughout his career, making it his trademark and creating a legacy for himself.
Some of his famous "BANG!" calls include the following: "They do have a timeout, decide not to use it, Curry way downtown, BANG! BANG! OH WHAT A SHOT BY CURRY! and in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals "James catches puts up a three, won't go, rebound Bosh, back out to Allen his three pointer BANG! Tie game with 5 seconds remaining!"
When the Knicks made the 2011 NBA Playoffs, Breen did not call any of the games for MSG due to his involvement with ESPN and ABC; he did call Games 3 (with the MSG broadcasts handled by Kenny Albert) and 4 for ESPN and ABC, respectively.
Some of Breen's current and past broadcast partners were employed with the Knicks at one point. The list includes former Knicks head coaches Hubie Brown and Jeff Van Gundy, former Knicks players Mark Jackson and Walt Frazier, and former Knicks radio color announcer John Andariese. While working alongside Bill Walton on ESPN, Breen was on hand for the infamous Pacers–Pistons brawl on November 19, 2004. Two seasons later, Breen was on hand for the Knicks–Nuggets brawl with MSG Network on December 16, 2006.
In addition, he was also the voice of the NBA Live, beginning with NBA Elite 11, alongside his usual ESPN partners Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy. However, the series was canceled indefinitely. He did voice along with Van Gundy in the NBA Live series beginning with NBA Live 14 through NBA Live 18. Following NBA Live 18, Breen and Van Gundy were replaced by Ed Cohen and Jay Williams.
Providing emphasis on how important to the basketball community Breen has been, on May 14, 2021, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was awarded the Curt Gowdy Media Award. These are two of the most prestigious accolades someone in this field can attain. When presented with the Curt Gowdy Media Award, Breen stated in his acceptance speech, “I’ve had this enormous privilege to call so many great moments in NBA history, but the best part, the best part, has always been the lifetime of friendships that the game has given me.”
In Game 7 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals, as well as the first two games of the 2022 NBA Finals, Breen sat out of the broadcasting team due to a positive COVID-19 test, and was replaced by Mark Jones. Breen returned in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
In 2023, following a wave of layoffs which included his partners Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson, Breen was the only remaining commentator in the lead broadcast team, with Doris Burke and former NBA coach Doc Rivers joining the lead team.
Breen has announced in five Olympic Games during his career, one Winter Olympics and four Summer Olympics. At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Breen called basketball, handling play-by-play for both the men and the women. At the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Breen called ski jumping. Breen served as a play-by-play announcer for NBC Sports coverage of men's and women's Basketball at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Breen has been a fixture on the radio as well. He began his professional radio career as a sportscaster on WNBC radio in the early 1980s, and frequently substituted for Dave Sims as host of "SportsNight" on the station. From 1988 to 2000, Breen did the sports segment on the WFAN and nationally syndicated Imus in the Morning talk/comedy radio show. Breen became noted for his deadpan delivery of false sports news, such as in the mid-1990s reporting that in the previous night's Mets game, "Félix Millán went 4-for-4 with 3 runs scored" (Millán retired in 1977).
Breen resides on Long Island, New York with his wife Rosanne and their three children, Michael, Nicole, and Matt. He is Catholic.