Behind The ScenesNBATeam Player

Team Player: Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson And Dave Fried

Before Game 4 of the NBA Finals on ABC tonight, Breen says of his senior talent statistician: "This is a stone cold fact: I’m a much better broadcaster because I’ve had Dave Fried sitting next to me for over 25 years."

(L-R) ESPN NBA commentators Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy, Mike Breen and senior talent statistician Dave Fried. (Ben Cafardo/ESPN)

In this edition of ESPN’s “Team Player” series, the legendary and record-setting NBA Finals broadcast team of play-by-play voice Mike Breen and analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson selected senior talent statistician Dave Fried to highlight as their “Team Player.”

Behind every successful broadcast team is an array of highly talented, dedicated behind-the-scenes colleagues, and it is universally agreed upon that Dave Fried is a shining example.

Fried began working for ESPN on the NBA Finals (and ESPN NBA game telecasts throughout the regular season and postseason) in 2006. He has sat next to Breen at the broadcast position for every one of Breen’s 14 NBA Finals events, 13 of which Van Gundy also partook in and 11 for Jackson.

The quartet will be together tonight for Game 4 of the NBA Finals on ABC (9 ET), as the Toronto Raptors visit the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif.

Through 30 years in the sports media industry, Fried has supported countless high level broadcasts across sports categories. However, Fried’s deep-rooted connection and contributions to the members of this ESPN NBA Finals team are special.

How does Fried help you do your job to the best of your ability?
Breen: Dave is not only incredible with numbers, but he has an excellent understanding of the game. So he’s not just handing me any random stat, he’s giving me numbers that are important to what’s going on out on the court. Plus, he’s a high school referee so he also has an excellent grasp of the rules. Because of Dave I don’t always have to be looking at the stat monitor. I can concentrate on what’s going on out on the court, and on my notes in front of me, because I know Dave has it covered. Having Dave as another set of eyes is invaluable to me.

Could you describe a time that Dave went above and beyond to help?
Breen: To me the most important part of Dave’s work is not necessarily going above and beyond once in a while, but rather it’s his consistency every single game. He doesn’t just show up at the arena. He reads the games notes and knows the storylines so he has an idea going in what might be important to that particular telecast. The other wonderful part of working with Dave is he’s always in a great mood. This is a stone cold fact: I’m a much better broadcaster because I’ve had Dave Fried sitting next to me for over 25 years [NOTE: Breen and Fried work together on New York Knicks telecasts].

What stands out to you most about Dave’s contributions to the team?
Van Gundy: Dave’s smart, has great recall of events and is totally dedicated to helping Mike. He has a great sense of humor and all of those attributes make him an invaluable member of our team.

Jackson: He is the best to ever to his job. Incredible guy who stays incredibly prepared. He’s a true joy to be around.

“Dream come true” for Fried

“Working with Mike, Jeff and Mark is a blast. The chemistry and camaraderie they have can not be matched. We are all on the road and away from our families but they make it feel like a family.

“Some of the best times are off-the-air. The car rides to and from the games are the funniest moments. While Mike is still getting in some last-minute work on the ride to the game, Jeff, Mark and I are usually arguing about something. At the end of the argument two things always happen: They will have destroyed my point of view and then we will always laugh about it.

“I go back 30 years with the three of them as Mark and I went to St. John’s together. But, I have this career because of Mike. I started with Mike over 22 years ago doing games in New York and I am so grateful to him for this. I grew up loving and playing basketball, and sometimes before a big game I look up into the crowd and say how this a dream come true and how fortunate I am to have the best seat in the house doing something I love.”

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