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An Ode to Mike Breen’s “Bang!”—the Best Play Call in All of Sports

The title: “How Do I Love Breen? (Someone Hit a 3)”

Getty Images/USA Today/Ringer illustration

Of all of the ancillary parts of basketball that are there to be missed during the deadest part of the offseason—the intro music before a Sunday afternoon game, the TNT halftime show, the unmistakable brilliance of a Doris Burke between-quarters interview—it’s Mike Breen’s “Bang!” that I long for the most. It is the best, most exciting, most pristine, single most identifiable play call in all of sports. The timbre of his voice, the way he somehow manages to match it exactly in spirit to whatever it is that’s just happened on the court, the pitch-perfect delivery, the uncannily excellent ratio at which he peppers it in between the “Lays it in!” and “Puts it in!” calls; I miss all the pieces of the “Bang!” tremendously. I am a man in love.

The poem “How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, except it’s the poem “How Do I Love Breen? (Someone Hit a 3)” by Shea Serrano:

How do I love Mike Breen’s “Bang!”? Let me count the ways.

I love Mike Breen’s “Bang!” to the depth and breadth and height

Like the time Carmelo’s 3 saved New York from an Easter plight

Or the time Paul Pierce’s 3 proved he’d not be left out of the fight

Or the time Jason Terry’s 3 helped defeat LeBron’s might.

I love Mike Breen’s “Bang!” to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.

I love Mike Breen’s “Bang!” freely, like the time Kobe drove the Suns back into the night.

I love Mike Breen’s “Bang!” purely, as it turns from air to praise.

And still with unquestioned vigor, even when Ray Allen set the Spurs’ title hopes ablaze.

I love Mike Breen’s “Bang!” as nourishment

As the grass loves the rain

As Paul George went b-ball insane

As Mike Miller airdropped pain

As Ben Gordon tied the game.

I love Mike Breen’s “Bang!” with the passion of perfect humanity

I love Mike Breen’s “Bang!” with the passion of ALL-CAPS LINSANITY.

I love Mike Breen’s “Bang!” with real joy and glee

Like when Westbrook hit that 3

Or Artest hit that 3

Or Patty hit that 3

Or Durant hit that 3

Or Bosh hit that 3.

I love Mike Breen’s “Bang!” with a love I seemed to lose

Like the time Steph Curry buried OKC and Breen delivered two “Bang!”s from which to choose.

I love Mike Breen’s “Bang!” with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love Mike Breen’s “Bang!” better after death.