In an industry where broadcasting booths tend to get turned over every few years, one of the few constants was ABC/ESPN’s top NBA team, consisting of announcer Mike Breen and analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson.
They called 15 NBA Finals as a trio (Breen and Van Gundy did 17 together), including the most recent one. That streak ended in June when Van Gundy was arguably the biggest name involved in ESPN’s latest round of layoffs. While rumors swirled around who would replace him, that conversation shifted in recent days as speculation about Jackson’s future in the booth got louder. That culminated in Jackson being let go on Tuesday in a decision that “shocked and dismayed” the analyst.
On Tuesday, the only remaining member of that booth shared his thoughts on seeing it all end so abruptly.
“It’s sad because we really thought we had something special and that’s going to be the thought going forward is that we were able to do it a lot longer than anybody ever did,” Breen told Andrew Marchand. “It’s something we’ll all treasure, but we just wish it was a little bit longer.
“You don’t expect it, because it was such a great team and to have it completely broken up was a surprise.”
It sounds like a foregone conclusion that Breen will be paired with Doris Burke and Doc Rivers as the new top ABC/ESPN crew. It’ll take some getting used to for the new booth to gel, and for audiences to adjust, but ABC and ESPN are moving full steam ahead towards the next chapter in their NBA coverage.