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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Mike Breen Explains the Beloved Call He Breaks Out Once a Year

  • Monday was just the sixth time Breen broke out the double ‘BANG!’ call.
  • Steph Curry once gave the announcer a sneaker named after it.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks’ comeback win over the Sixers on Monday night was stunning, but one part was nearly unheard of. When Donte DiVincenzo’s three-pointer capped a five-point swing in under 30 seconds, Mike Breen exclaimed, “Bang! Bang!” on the MSG Network broadcast, the announcer’s main home when he’s not calling games on ESPN. The four-letter word has been synonymous with Breen’s broadcasting career and started as a thing he’d yell in the stands while watching games as a student at Fordham. But Monday marked just the sixth time he had used a double “Bang.”

Front Office Sports spoke with Breen on the phone about his rarest of calls, its origin, and its deployment. 

Front Office Sports: The first recorded evidence we have of it is the Steph Curry three from just inside half court against the Thunder in 2016. Was that its true debut?

Mike Breen: Yeah, that was definitely the first one. I remember thinking afterwards, like, sometimes the games are so heated and crazed, and you’re so focused you don’t even remember what you said specifically. You have an idea, but you don’t remember what you said. But I remember thinking afterwards of that one, “How did I call it? Did I give it a double?” It was just one of those—it was such an unbelievable game. It certainly wasn’t anything I ever planned; it just came out. I remember thinking, Boy, I hope I didn’t sound like I completely lost it. Because it was the first time that I ever did it. 

FOS: A buddy of mine who does play-by-play said, “We all have a filter.” Had you thought about doing it before, or was it one of those things you did in the moment and decided you’d stick with?

MB: Your buddy is right. You kind of think about how you want to play out certain endings, but that one was not planned out. I never thought I would ever say it twice like that. It just came out in the heat of the moment, and that’s just simply a love of basketball and a love of the drama that can come at the end of a game. 

FOS: I have six double Bangs: Steph in 2016, Eric Gordon against the Lakers in 2019, Luka Dončić in the bubble, Marcus Smart against the Knicks, Julius Randle against the Heat last year, and then Donte. Do you have a time when you said and you thought, Maybe I shouldn’t have used it, or do you have a couple of times when you nearly said it but held back?

MB: Knicks fans get mad when I use it for opponents. But no, I’ve never regretted using it because it’s kind of a spontaneous, extra-excited reaction to a special play and I don’t think I’ve ever said, “Oh, I should have done a double there.” I’ve had people tell me I should of at certain spots, but you know what I’ve tried not to overdo it in any way. Even just the regular “Bang!” I don’t do it every game. In fact, if I have to go back and look, I don’t even think I do it even half the games that I broadcast. 

Sometimes it is a momentum-turning play, sometimes it’s a game-winner, sometimes it’s a big shot when a team needs it in an important game.

I try to minimize the amount and not overdo it, and save it for something that’s special. 

FOS: To me it’s almost like the more expensive part of your liquor cabinet. You only reach for the 20-year-old wine bottle every now and then. 

MB: For special occasions! As a wine lover, I like that analogy. I’m going to use that. Save the special bottle for a special event: That’s what I try and do. Save the doubles for a very special, spectacular play. 

FOS: Is there a dividing line between using one “Bang!” or two?

MB: No, it really is just kind of a feel of the moment. Is it so unexpected? Is it so important? Is it so phenomenal that you just get excited? And again, I’m not thinking as the shot’s going up, “Am I going to say one bang or two bangs?” It’s the reaction of how it goes in. And the other thing, too—most play-by-play will tell you—when the home team does something spectacular, you have to raise your voice higher because you’re fighting against the crowd. When the road team does something spectacular, you don’t have to go as high because usually it’s like a “Awww” or a hush that silences the crowd. 

FOS: Has Steph Curry joked with you about taking credit for it since then?

MB: Steph has been so nice about the whole thing. He made a particular sneaker that he did that was the “Double Bang” sneaker and he presented me with one of the original ones. So he’s been so nice about what it meant to him, but he really is the one responsible for it. If he doesn’t make the play—that’s with everything, not just that, but any call—if they don’t make these unbelievable plays, we don’t get a chance to try and make a great call. So all the credit goes to the players. 

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

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