There are 401 inductees in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. There are 76 players who have won three NBA titles, and 46 who have been named league Most Valuable Player. All of these are impressive clubs with exclusive memberships, but none is as impressive or as exclusive as basketball’s true ring of honor: the Mike Breen Double-“Bang!” Club.
Mike Breen’s “Bang!” is the best sports announcer call of the 21st century. There’s an inherent tension to watching a basketball player release a jump shot: For about two seconds, we must simply follow the ball through the air, waiting to know whether it will clang or fall. And when a shot goes through the net, then comes the Bang. Breen alters how he delivers this call depending on the tenor of the make. Some Bangs are over the top and exuberant; some are terse and firm; some are exhaled and drawn out—“Baaaaaang.” The punctuation varies; some shots are worthy of an exclamation point and some are not. The Bang is an expression of finality that puts the proper bow on the triumph we’ve just witnessed.
But not all shots end. Some exist not in a single moment, but as a touchstone of basketball history. These are the vaunted Double Bangs. To date, there have been three of them, including Luka Doncic’s game-winner in Sunday’s overtime win against the Clippers. Let’s go through all three to put the greatness of Luka’s shot in perspective.
Steph Curry vs. the Thunder (February 27, 2016)
Although this came in a regular-season game, Curry’s buzzer-beater in Oklahoma City feels like the most iconic game-winner of the NBA’s modern era. The Warriors entered this matchup as defending champs, with a record of 53-4 and Curry taking more 3s—and hitting from deeper distances—than anybody ever had.
Still, when Curry brought the ball across half-court with the score tied and just over three seconds remaining, Breen was calling the action like this were a normal basketball game. Just before Curry pulled up, Breen was noting how the Warriors had a timeout. This made sense, because a normal team may have called a timeout, and a normal player might have driven closer to the hoop. But when Curry pulled up from 37 feet to hit his record-tying 12th 3-pointer of the night, Breen knew this moment was historic. He let loose his first Double Bang.
“Don’t ask me why or how it came out,“ Breen said of his debut Double Bang. “It was like an out-of-body experience.”
It also established the standard of the Double Bang. This call was reserved for shots that stood for more than just a single game in the standings. It proved that one shot could be worth multiple Bangs.
Eric Gordon vs. the Lakers (January 19, 2019)
Breen’s second Double Bang was slightly less memorable than his first. It did not come on a game-winner, it did not happen in the playoffs, and it did not commemorate a shot you probably even remember. During a Saturday-night matchup between the Lakers and the Rockets, Houston’s Eric Gordon hit a 3 to send the game into overtime.
This is a great shot, but doesn’t seem like an iconic one. Regardless, it will forever go down as a Double Bang. Some will say this is only because Breen got overexcited, or because Breen realized how much people liked the first Double Bang and decided to sprinkle it into his repertoire more. But I do not question the prophet of the Double Bang. Breen is merely the vessel through which the holy words are spoken.
At first, it seemed like Gordon had jumped in order to draw contact with Lance Stephenson. But Gordon realized that no foul was coming, and hoisted the shot rimward despite careening forward at an awkward angle. Everyone, from Gordon to the crowd to Breen, was caught off-guard by the fact that the shot actually went in. The make is a miracle, as is the Double Bang.
I’ve watched this shot dozens of times now. I will watch it hundreds of times more in hopes of reaching a deeper understanding of what makes it a Double Bang.
Luka Doncic vs. the Clippers (August 23, 2020)
The things Doncic did Sunday feel unbelievable. He racked up 43 points, 17 rebounds, and 13 assists—the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to post that exact stat line. He hit the second-longest game-winning shot in playoff history, against the team that was favored to win the Western Conference when the first round began. He did this with his team’s second-best player sidelined due to injury. And he did it like this:
Remember, a Double Bang is not just a game-winner. It’s a moment when you’re not only watching the basketball game on your TV—you’re watching any number of incredible games starring this incredible player over the next decade. When Curry hit that shot in OKC, it was clear that the NBA would change around him. The same goes for Doncic’s shot. And every time we see these greats make miracles in the years to come, we’ll remember how it was foretold by the Double Bang. (I’m still figuring out how Gordon factors into this. Holy works are not meant to be easily explained.)
The first Bang is an acknowledgment that a shot has gone in, as so many shots have before. But the second Bang portends something greater. It is the future of basketball, suddenly interjecting itself onto your screen. It is an echo that will ring through the ages. We welcome Luka Doncic to the exalted realm of the Double Bang, and from our lips we draw the Halleluka.