Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mike Breen Was Taking Your Calls the Night That John Lennon Died.

Sorry for what seems, even to me, to be an overabundance of posts related in one way or another to John Lennon (but seriously go back and read "Lebron James and the Plastic Riley Band"), but I couldn't help but share this moment from last night's Knicks broadcast on MSG.

Mike Breen (that's him on the right) was handling play-by-play duties with Walt "Clyde" Frazier (yup, the left) during the tilt at the Garden when he shared his own story from thirty years ago last night when Lennon was gunned down outside of his home on the Upper West Side.
"I remember that night vividly because I was a student at Fordham University, and working as a DJ that night on their overnight rock show. And was called in by, there was another student who was supposed to do the show ahead of me, and she was so upset by hearing the news of his death that she called my home and said, "You have to come in early and do both shows. I can't go on." She was so distraught. And I went in to do the shows, and started answering the phones for requests for the Beatles' music. We were playing Beatles music all night long, and people were calling in all night, so emotional. Many of them in tears, many of them telling how John Lennon changed their life. It was some incredible stories that the people were telling. And of the impact that his music and the meaning - and as Gallinari is fouled - had on them and it is a night I'll never ever forget, and you really realize how much he touched so many people. I remember one in particular, there was one gentleman called up and said that he was ready to take his own life but John Lennon's music kind of made him see things a little more clearer and he felt it saved his life. Just incredible stuff."
Somewhere in the earnest yet understated way in which Breen was able to deliver this anecdote lies the key to him being the best play-by-play guy in the business. Not only does his background, both proudly being born and raised in the Big Apple and his gig as a late-night rock DJ (could this guy get any more awesome?), give him the capability of delivering the story in the first place, but his tremendous empathy enable him to deliver it without sensationalizing it or playing up the part he played. There's no way that this recollection comes off nearly as poignant if subjected to the ham-fisted delivery used by most local television guys. In case you couldn't tell, I couldn't be a bigger fan of Breen unless he were Clyde.

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