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Ian Eagle, Mike Been Explain Why They Still Call Local Games

“Breen grew up a Knicks fan, so he enjoys calling games at Madison Square Garden.”

Ricky Keeler

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When you think about Mike Breen and Ian Eagle outside of the New York Tri-State area, you know them as NBA broadcasters for ESPN/ABC and TNT respectively. However, the people in the Tri-State have a connection to them as broadcasters for their local NBA teams, the Knicks (Breen on MSG) and the Nets (Eagle on YES). 

On the latest episode of the Sports Media With Richard Deitsch podcast, Deitsch asked them why they still call games for teams instead of being solely national.

“I feel a kinship with the organization, the production team,” replied Eagle. “That’s what keeps you going. In addition, I’d love to see the Nets win a championship and feel like you are part of that in some way…. There is this sense of commonality and sense of teamwork and feeling good for people that you have got to know.” 

Breen grew up a Knicks fan, so he enjoys calling games at Madison Square Garden. He mentioned that he calls a local and national game the same way and that the MSG broadcast actually helps him with his games for ESPN/ABC. Regular work with the Knicks means more exposure to the league as a whole.

While some broadcasters could view each other as competition, both Breen and Eagle feel that all of the NBA broadcasters have a great friendship and they end up rooting for each other to do well.

“I just know with Kevin Harlan, Brian Anderson, Dave Pasch, Mark Jones, Ryan Ruocco, Spero Dedes, whoever is doing this at the national level, I root for all of them. I want them all to do well. There’s enough to go around in this business,” said Eagle. 

“For some reason, our generation has become this close-knit bunch where we are always texting each other, trying to arrange dinners together,” Breen added. “Ian calls a game and I am texting him telling him that was a fantastic call. We go back-and-forth with everybody. I don’t know if the previous generation felt the same way, but there’s enough great jobs to go around that we are all living a dream…It’s like this amazing brotherhood. It’s one of my favorite things about the business.”

While it feels like many people try to compete in different businesses to try to reach the top of their profession, it is refreshing to hear that NBA broadcasters are rooting for each other. Breen and Eagle could always choose to go solely national, but the local connection they like with calling the Knicks and Nets puts them on another level with those fanbases. 

Sports TV News

Robert Griffin III Replaces Randy Moss on Monday Night Countdown

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program.

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Robert Griffin III
David Becker, Getty Images

With Monday Night Countdown set to lead into Thursday’s preseason matchup with the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, ESPN announced their lineup for the show.

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program. Robert Griffin III will join Booger McFarland and Steve Young as the show’s main analysts.

They will be partnered with Suzy Kolber who returns for her sixth year as the show’s host and news breaker Adam Schefter.

It was reported in July that analyst Randy Moss would not be returning to the show, opting instead to focus solely on Sunday Night Countdown.

The first regular season action featuring Monday Night Countdown will be on Monday, September 12 when the Seahawks play the Denver Broncos.

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Sports TV News

Leafs Nation Network, the Toronto Maple Leafs Channel, Is Going Off the Air

“Thank you for your viewership. As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

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The Toronto Maple Leafs launched Leafs TV, a team-specific specialty channel in 2001 and rebranded it as Leafs Nation Network in 2017. However, after nearly twenty-one years on the air, it will fade to black at the end of August.

“Thank you for your viewership,” the channel told viewers who have tuned in recently. “As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

The news was confirmed to the Sun. Staff said they had been informed of the news a few weeks ago however few jobs are expected to be lost, of any, as many of the LNN duties will be moved to the digital format.

Leafs TV was part of the sale of the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise sale in 2011 to Bell-Rogers communications (worth $1.32 billion). With that sale, Leafs TV began to become a “redundant” channel focusing mainly on classic games and interviews once Rogers made a 2014 deal to become the dominant NHL network, grabbing the majority of live programming.

“Leafs TV was a big bargaining chip at the time of the (Rogers-Bell sale), but they’ve come to see that (lack of game broadcast presence) doesn’t work,” a source told the Sun.

A statement from MLSE on Tuesday read in part: “With new and increasing opportunities to share content on its digital platforms, subscribers to the Leafs Nation Network were informed earlier this month that the channel would cease being broadcast on Sept. 1. Maple Leafs game day and practice coverage will continue to be shared across the team’s digital platforms, combined with exciting new content on the team’s social and digital channels. The team will continue to produce live Marlies home games with details being shared in the weeks ahead about where those broadcasts will be made available.”

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Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith Says He Wants Mike Francesa on First Take

Russo smiled and chirped back, ““You can’t beat me, you’re never gonna beat him.”

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Stephen A. Smith, Mike Francesa

Stephen A. Smith seems to be looking to debate every major media personality with big opinions and he has set his eyes on Mike Francesa.

Smith was on First Take on Wednesday with weekly guest Chris “Mad Dog” Russo and chastising Russo for being upset with Aaron Rodgers calling out his wide receivers. That’s when Smith brought up the former WFAN tandem of Mike and the Mad Dog.

“The thing that disappoints me about you,” Smith said to Russo, “you’re upset with honesty. You are not only hosting your own radio show, you have your own channel.”

Smith continued, “You are one of the pioneers if not THE pioneer with Mike Francesa, who, by the way, I got to get him on this show one day too, with you. You understand what I’m saying? I mean it would be my honor to have Mike Francesa too.”

Russo smiled and chirped back, ““You can’t beat me, you’re never gonna beat him.”

Smith returned once more with “I ain’t scared. I’m never gonna beat him, but I’ll try, damn it.”

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