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Christmas Coming Early for NBA Fans This Year

ESPN’s lead NBA play-by-play man Mike Breen on the upcoming season, Twitter and the show his family made fun of him for watching 10/22/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

One year after a work stoppage
shortened the season, National Basketball
Association fans are again
ready for some pre-Christmas hoops, and so
is ESPN’s lead NBA play-by-play announcer,
Mike Breen. He spoke with B&C contributing
editor Tim Baysinger about whether fans will
ever forgive LeBron James for “The Decision,”
if “Linsanity” will translate in Houston and
yes—Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. An edited
transcript follows.

What are some of the
story lines that you are
looking forward to seeing
play out this year?

Well, I think it starts with
the Lakers and how good
they can be. When you add
guys like Dwight Howard
and Steve Nash, I mean, they
are two of the premier players
in the game, two of the
premier players at their positions.
When you add them
to what is already there,
they’ve got scary potential
for the opponents.

Do you think now that LeBron has a ring,
his time as the league’s “villain” is over?

Hopefully it’s over. I think for the majority of
the people it’s over. There will be some, and
you certainly can understand the sentiment
in Cleveland, that they probably would still
consider him “Villain No. 1.” But I think even
those who really had disdain for the way he
handled the situation [“The Decision”], have
to appreciate what kind of player he is. And
just because he had a really bad idea for a
press conference, people started to hate him. I
hope that it dies down, and we can appreciate
watching him for the kind of player that he is.

Who would now take LeBron’s mantle as
the most-scrutinized player?

I think Dwight Howard is going to be scrutinized
quite a bit. No. 1, to see how he fits in
with the Lakers, and No. 2, because he didn’t
handle his free agency situation well at all. He
has a lot of people who are down on him, certainly
in Orlando. I think he might take that
[role], but nothing is going to come close [to
what James experienced].

You had a front-row seat
for “Linsanity” last year.
Do you think now that
Jeremy Lin is in Houston
and not New York, he’ll
have the same draw with

I think internationally
he will, but I don’t think
amongst NBA fans in the
U.S., it will be as much. The
fact that it was in New York,
on the Knicks, I think fueled
a lot of it. That’s not to say it
wasn’t one of the most unbelievable
stories that I’ve seen
in 20 years covering the NBA.
It was just incredible; it was rock-star status.
But I think the fact that it was in New York did
play a part in it. I think because Houston is not
going to be a team that contends—they’re a really
young team; they’re in rebuilding mode bigtime—
because of that, [Lin] won’t be as much
of a story with NBA fans.

Do you think that with the NHL lockout,
some hockey fans who didn’t previously
watch the NBA will give it a try?

I don’t know about that. I think there might be a
handful, but I don’t think it’s going to have a big
impact. Plus, I’m hopeful they get back to work.
I feel for all peripheral people that are hurt by it.

You don’t have a Twitter account. Do
you ever plan to?

I’m going to fight it for as long as I can, but
it might be a losing battle. Nobody has any
interest in my thoughts, that’s part of it—and
my kids would agree.

What TV shows do you watch? What sits
on your DVR?

I don’t watch a lot of television shows. I’m
a crazy movie fan. I just love watching old
classics and going to the movies. I recently
saw Argo, and it was fantastic. I’m into the
HBO stuff like Band of Brothers, The Sopranos,
[and FX’s] The Shield. One show that I do
watch, because I get to watch it as a family,
is Modern Family. I think that show is hilarious.
That’s the one we kind of try and make
sure we see.

Are there any shows that you wish you
had gotten into?

Homeland. Everybody is telling me that I have
to go watch Homeland. I’ve got to go get the
first season.

Mike, everyone wants to know, what are
your thoughts on the whole Honey Boo
Boo craze?

[Laughs] My wife and my daughter were telling
me about it: “You have to see this.” I’m
like, “There’s no way that I am going to watch
it.” And then one night, I was just going
through the channels, and there pops up Here
Comes Honey Boo Boo
. You can’t turn away. A
half-hour later, I’m still watching it and they
both come in and absolutely made fun of me.
I think that one 30-minute sample was more
than enough for me.

E-mail comments to
and follow him on Twitter: @tim_bays


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