ESPN’s Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy, the network’s lead commentator team, were thrilled when they heard they were going to be courtside for an NBA Finals rematch — Miami at Dallas — on Christmas (ABC, 2:30 p.m. ET).
They were looking forward to seeing the Mavs hang their championship banner and the Heat seek revenge for the Finals defeat, all from their courtside perch. Little did they know, it was about to become even more special.
Mark Gross, ESPN’s senior vice president and executive producer, surfaced the idea of Breen and Van Gundy calling two Christmas Day games.
Following the Heat/Mavs clash, they will fly — along with Tim Corrigan, ESPN senior coordinating producer – to the Bay Area for the debut of former TV colleague Mark Jackson as head coach of the Golden State Warriors (versus the L.A. Clippers, ESPN, 10:30 p.m.).
“The three of them have a close relationship and they have a history which goes back beyond the five years they worked together at ESPN,” said Gross.
“We all thought it would be a lot of fun for them to be on site for Mark’s coaching debut.”
Adding another element to the ESPN telecast, Breen and Van Gundy will be joined by Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst Chris Mullin for the Warriors/Clippers telecast. Mullin, a Warriors legend, played with Jackson at St. John’s and as members of the Indiana Pacers in the late 90s. Terry Gannon will be the courtside reporter.
If all goes according to plan, Breen and Van Gundy will arrive 90 minutes prior to the game. If it doesn’t, Gannon will begin the game as play-by-play commentator with Mullin as analyst until Breen and Van Gundy can join them.
“There’s no way to predict whether there will be overtime in Dallas, but we’re prepared if it happens,” said Gross.
“I don’t believe this has ever been done before for an NBA game, but it will be a special way to tip off the season on ABC and ESPN.”
See the entire ESPN/ABC NBA schedule by clicking here.