Event Previews

ABC releases NBA Finals schedule; Van Gundy and Jackson upset that Mike Breen’s not in the Hall of Fame

Given the record number of title series he's done, 14, Breen's become the Voice of the NBA; Marv Albert will forever be Voice Emeritus


Mike Breen takes center stage on ABC tonight, calling the play-by-play of the 2019 NBA championship.

Having known Mike since the 1980s, I can assure you that he never struck me as one who sought the limelight. He was motivated more by his love and passion for basketball. While he did a little football, his comfort zone has always been the hardwood. He played the game as a kid, liked the officiating aspect of it and continues to study the rules. He’s easygoing and rarely if ever has a nasty word to say about anyone.

Interestingly, he was first known in New York, and fairly well so, for being Don Imus’ sports man on WNBC and later WFAN. Like Don Criqui who was the I-Man’s sports reporter for years, Breen would humorously engage with the edgy and unpredictable talkie and go tit-for-tat with him. Mike would hold his own, not easy. At times, it was almost like the whole Imus thing was an act. It wasn’t the Breen anyone knew outside Imus’ studio.

Calling the games is what Mike wanted to do and where he’s himself.

Tonight, Breen does his 14th NBA championship on network television, more than any other announcer has ever done, (Marv Albert 9 and Dick Stockton 9, Chris Schenkel 7 and Brent Musburger and Lindsey Nelson, 6 each).

Not that he ever yearned for the unofficial title, he’s really a humble guy, yet by now, Breen, like it or not, is the Voice of the NBA. And let’s say that Marv Albert is the NBA’s Voice Emeritus and will deservedly be so as long as he lives. 

Breen, 58, brings keenness, a depth of basketball familiarity, a great feel for the flow of the game and a referee’s knowledge of the rules to the mic.

If Marv has a flair, Breen has developed a mastery. If Marv is more stylish, Breen is cheerfully polished. If Marv’s voice is unmistakable, Breen’s is comfortable. If Marv’s style is unwavering, Breen goes with the flow.

Marv follows his trusty blueprint and is more methodical. The colors change but the patterns never do, not the emotion or his stamped phrases. Breen’s not as uniquely fashioned but he’s equally as disciplined. Marv is a bit more old-school, the play-by-play guy leads. Breen is more conversational, more of a ramp ‘em up announcer, not afraid to amplify and define. Albert spices his broadcasts with wry humor and trademark expressions. Breen can be tidy and chuckle with partners, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. And, don’t forget. Like many others, Breen grew up adoring Marv.

Breen not honored yet by the Naismith Hall of Fame

The fact that Breen has not been bestowed the Gowdy Award upsets both Van Gundy, the ex-Knicks and Rockets coach and Jackson, the one time NBA Rookie of the Year.

Van Gundy: “I don’t really know lot about how the Hall of Fame works. Not really sure. Less sure about what it takes to get a Curt Gowdy Award. If Mike Breen, with all that he’s done, hasn’t earned his way into that role, that award, I’m not sure what more he could possibly have done.”

Mark Jackson: “It is an absolute crime that Mike Breen is not in the Hall of Fame when you look at his body of work. Jeff and I agree, with Ernie Johnson, they’re the two best point guards in TV.”


Jeff says that one of the people he thinks off when walking into Oracle Arena is the longtime Bay Area voice, Bill King who did the A’s, Warriors and Raiders. As a kid in Northern California, Van Gundy  listened to King on the radio. The Warriors will play at Oracle for the last time before moving to San Francisco next year.

Jackson, meanwhile, said that he always listened to announcers, DJs and personalities on radio and television growing up in New York City including Steve Harvey: “Doesn’t matter. I learned from each and every one of those categories, how they talk, how they prepare, what they do that’s good, what they do that’s not good. It’s been a learning process for me.”


NBA Finals on ABC game schedule:- All times Eastern

Thu, May 30          9 p.m.            Game 1: Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors

Sun, June 2           8 p.m.            Game 2: Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors

Wed, June 5          9 p.m.            Game 3: Toronto Raptors at Golden State Warriors

Fri, June 7             9 p.m.            Game 4: Toronto Raptors at Golden State Warriors

Mon, June 10        9 p.m.            Game 5: Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors*

Thu, June 13         9 p.m.            Game 6: Toronto Raptors at Golden State Warriors*

Sun, June 16         8 p.m.            Game 7: Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors*

*If necessary


Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson

NBA officiating analyst Steve Javie will also contribute to the game coverage from the NBA Replay Center. Doris Burke will patrol the ABC sidelines.

NBA Countdown will once again serve as the pregame show for the NBA Finals on ABC, 30 minutes prior to tip off. Michelle Beadle, in her third year as NBA Countdown host at the NBA Finals, will lead the team, including veteran analyst and Fab Five member Jalen Rose, and NBA Finals MVPs Paul Pierce and Chauncey Billups.

ESPN Radio will also have the action with Marc Kestecher  and the redoubtable Hubie Brown.

David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Michael Green
4 years ago

I remember Breen starting out with Imus and dishing it out and taking it. It was a little harder for him than for Criqui, who was older and nationally established, so they worked over Breen more than they had Criqui (including calling him “the teen queen, Mike Breen”). And it was weird enough for me to hear his name, for reasons that may be obvious from my name! But a word about the Gowdy Award. Jeff Van Gundy mentioned Bill King, who was assuredly one of the greatest play-by-play broadcasters of all time–brilliant at baseball, football, and basketball. King got… Read more »