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Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
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Breen’s Busy X-Mas

New York Knicks television play-by-play announcer Mike Breen, who also broadcasts National Basketball Association (NBA) games for Disney-owned ABC and ESPN, will work a double-shift on Christmas Day. The first is in Texas and the other is in California, where he’ll also reunite with a former colleague.

The logistics are daunting but doable. Breen, along with analyst Jeff Van Gundy, a former Knicks head coach, are starting Sunday, Dec. 25 in Dallas, home of the league’s defending champion, where they’ll call the Mavericks-Miami Heat game. Tip-off is at 2:30 p.m., ET, and millions are expected to watch on ABC the rematch of last year’s NBA Finals. It is one of a series of high-profile contests that will launch the NBA’s lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season.

Breen and Van Gundy will board, after the Dallas-Miami game concludes, a chartered plane. Following their three-hour flight to San Francisco from Dallas, they will make the short drive to Oakland‘s Oracle Arena for the NBA head coaching debut of Mark Jackson. Jackson, a former St. John’s and Knicks standout, was the third man in the broadcast booth in recent years with Breen and Van Gundy. Jackson’s Golden State Warriors are taking on the Los Angeles Clippers in a game ESPN is airing Christmas Day at 10:30 p.m., ET.

“I have eight months of craziness but I manage to decompress every summer,” Breen said in a phone interview last week, as we discussed how he balances his extensive Knicks broadcasting duties with those given to him by ABC and ESPN. Known for his extensive preparation, smooth delivery, and precise play-by-play style, the Manhasset resident and married father of three is scheduled to broadcast about 40 of the 56 Knicks games airing this season on MSG.

“This is my 20th year with the Knicks,” the 50-year-old Breen added. “As a kid growing up as a Knicks fan, it is a dream job.”

Breen, a Fordham University graduate and Yonkers, NY, native, began his affiliation with the Knicks as their radio play-by-play voice and then moved to MSG, the Knicks’ TV home. As our conversation turned to the Knicks‘ latest roster moves, his enthusiasm for the Knicks’ acquisition of former Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler became clear.

“It’s almost a perfect fit,” Breen said, about the Knicks landing Chandler. “They needed a defender and a rebounder, and that’s what he does.”

The day before we spoke there was a Wall Street Journal article questioning whether the Knicks benefited from having its two marquee players, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, combine to take 46 percent of the team’s total shots at the end of last season. Breen challenged the critique’s premise.

“They should be taking most of the shots. They’re two of the best offensive players in the game,” Breen stated, while adding he thought Toney Douglas and Landry Fields would likely contribute significantly to the Knicks’ offense this year.

The NBA lock-out did have an upside for Breen. Recognizing his late fall calendar was open for the first time in decades, ESPN asked him to broadcast college basketball games at locales he’d never visited, such as Duke University and the University of Alabama. Better yet, Breen only had to work one game, in one state, on those days.

Mike Barry, a corporate communications consultant, has worked in government and journalism. Email: MFBARRY@optonline.net