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Being Out of Spotlight Doesn’t Bother Breen

An impressive list of play-by-play announcers has worked the NBA Finals. On the list from recent years: Al Michaels, Marv Albert, Bob Costas, Dick Stockton and Brent Musburger.

Going back further, it also includes Keith Jackson and Chris Schenkel. And Lindsey Nelson worked alongside Curt Gowdy from 1955 to 1960.

So, who is the play-by-play announcer for ABC on these NBA Finals?

The answer, in case you didn’t know, is Mike Breen, who works alongside Hubie Brown.

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Breen is fairly well known in New York, where he has been a full-time announcer for the Knicks since 1997 and from 1989 to 2000 was a regular on Don Imus’ morning show on radio station WFAN.

He has worked NBA games for NBC and ESPN in recent years, and became the lead NBA announcer for ABC in February, after Michaels signed to do Sunday night football for NBC.

But Breen still doesn’t enjoy the name recognition that usually comes with sitting in the courtside seat he now occupies.

Maybe that’s a good thing. If a referee does a good job -- and Breen did some refereeing when he was in college -- no one notices. A referee only gets noticed when he does a bad job.

That’s sort of true with play-by-play announcers too.

Few basketball announcers have more name recognition than Dick Vitale, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

“I sort of enjoy being under the radar,” Breen said from Miami before Thursday night’s Game 4.

Breen said he was attracted to broadcasting because of his love for sports, not because he wanted to be famous.

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Growing up in Yonkers, N.Y., Breen, 45, played basketball and baseball in high school, but he went to Fordham to become a broadcaster.

The school has produced a number of sports broadcasters, most notably Vin Scully. Lakers radio announcer Spero Dedes is another Fordham graduate. Breen, who is married and has three children, graduated in 1983.

For 2 1/2 years after that, he worked for a radio station in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., handling such duties as covering school board meetings.

Now, he has hit the big time -- and is close to signing a new contract with ABC-ESPN.

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But it still may be a while before he is readily recognized.

Breen was in Los Angeles earlier this year to announce a Lakers game and was having breakfast in Beverly Hills. A waiter approached and said, “You’re Brit Hume,” confusing Breen with the Fox News anchor.

Breen did not set the waiter straight. “He seemed excited, and I didn’t want to disappoint him,” Breen said.

The way things are going, people are soon going to not only recognize Breen, but also be excited about meeting him.

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No Way to Treat a Lady

Susan Stratton was made semi-famous by Chick Hearn. He’d talk to her during Channel 9’s Lakers telecasts, asking the longtime producer/director for certain replays and such things.

Hearn often said Stratton belonged in a hall of fame, if there were such a thing for sports producers/directors.

Stratton, nearing the end of her award-winning career, wanted to work one more season for the independent production company that now handles the Lakers telecasts for Channel 9. Her request was turned down, and she was abruptly dismissed.

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That’s corporate America.


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