If you’re a basketball fan, you’re familiar with Mike Breen’s work – and if you think you aren’t, you probably are.
Not sure? Breen is the guy who yells “Bang!” after big shots.
See? You know who he is, right?
“It actually started when I was in college,” Breen said on The Zach Gelb Show, explaining the origins of the call. “I went to Fordham University in the Bronx, and I worked at the college radio station, WFUV, and we used to do the Fordham men’s and women’s basketball games. And the games that we didn’t do, we would go as student fans. I would travel all around the tristate area watching my school’s team. I was a big Fordham Rams basketball fan. When I wasn’t calling the games for the station, I was there in the stands, and I started doing it in the stands. A Fordham player would hit a big shot, and I would yell, ‘Bang!’ as a fan in the stands."
And then, one day, Breen decided to try it on air.
“I tried it on the air, and ironically when I first started doing it, I didn’t particularly like it,” he said. “I didn’t know if it worked because it was on radio. But then years later I tried it again, and the reason I started to like it was because it was a very quick, concise way to call a big shot in a big moment where you don’t have to use your voice to override the crowd. You give the ‘Bang’ call and you get out of the way and you let the crowd come in and kind of take it away from there. Ironically, that doesn’t apply right now [in the bubble], but that’s how it got started.”
When Breen first started yelling “Bang” on television, however, he encountered some pushback.
“Even when I first started using it on TV, a TV-radio writer took a shot, saying, ‘That’s such a lame call. Why does he use that?’” Breen recalled. “It turned out to be something that became popular. But I started using it and I had a few people say to me, ‘Hey, I like the way that sounds. It’s a good way to do it.’ So I tried it more and then more people said they liked it, so I stuck with it.”
As it turns out, other sports broadcasters used the “Bang” call in their careers, including the Celtics’ Johnny Most, Philadelphia’s Steve Fredericks, and the Spurs’ Jay Howard.
“I’m not the first one to use it,” Breen said, “but it’s been very helpful to me in my career and it’s a nice, easy way to put an exclamation point on a big play.”