ESPN announcer Mike Breen has one of the most memorable catchphrases in the history of sports broadcasting. His simple but effective “Bang!” has punctuated some of the NBA’s biggest moments, like Ray Allen’s game-tying three for the Heat in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals and Stephen Curry’s long game-winner against the Thunder in ’15 (a rare double “bang” from Breen).
Breen is the voice of this NBA generation, and his calls are just as memorable to players as they are to fans. In Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Lakers, Nuggets star Jamal Murray hit a clutch three and as he ran back down the court, turned toward Breen and yelled, “Bang!”
It was a fun bit of showmanship from Murray, who was in the middle of an incendiary 23-point fourth quarter, but it held deeper significance for Breen. He was asked about the moment in an interview with Howard Beck published in GQ on Tuesday:
Chris Paul did something like that once before, but not in the heat of a moment of a big playoff game like that. I've gotten to know [Murray], and he's such a terrific young man. And for him to do that in the middle of a game, it was really flattering. And the next day when I saw him, I made sure I thanked him, because it made me feel like OK, maybe I'm doing something right in terms of trying to enhance big moments. And if a player like that, in a moment like that, that's what he thinks of, then maybe I'm doing my job the right way. So it was satisfying, but it was also very humbling.
That’s a refreshing perspective. Breen has been calling NBA games for more than 30 years and this is his 18th Finals behind the microphone, but players are still finding ways to show him how much he means to the league.