Attention, couples everywhere: We’ve got some relationship advice from a New York couple who will share a familiar table in Midtown Manhattan tonight, celebrating their 20th anniversary.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z? Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick? Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld?
Nope. Nope. Nope.
Mike Breen and Walt Frazier (known as Clyde)?
Yep and yep.
However, their table will not be covered with a white linen tablecloth and candles, but rather statistics sheets, laptops and a video monitor.
Mr. Breen, 57, and Mr. Frazier, his 73-year-old partner-in-rhyme, have been a New York Knicks broadcasting team on MSG Networks for two decades.
They recently discussed the keys to maintaining their rock-solid relationship, which began on television on Feb. 5, 1999, at Orlando, back when Mr. Frazier was a precocious neophyte (a phrase he uses to describe promising rookies, which happens to be one of Mr. Breen’s favorite Frazierisms).
“To me, the most important aspects of any partnership are respect and concern,” said Mr. Frazier, an All-Star guard in his heyday — he was voted one of the 50 greatest players ever — who led the Knicks to their two N.B.A. titles, in 1970 and 1973.
“Mike and I not only have a mutual respect, but we care about each other, and each other’s families,” said Mr. Frazier, who lives in Harlem with his longtime girlfriend, Patricia James. “I know that if I had a problem personally or professionally, Mike would be the first one there for me, and vice versa.”
Rosanne Breen, who in September will celebrate an even longer time with Mr. Breen (their 30th wedding anniversary), said that listening to her husband and Mr. Frazier on the air “is like listening to a couple of relatives chatting on the phone.”
“My favorite aspect of their relationship is how kind they are to one another, and how their admiration for each other comes across specifically through humor,” Ms. Breen said. “I think at least once a broadcast there’s some sort of very organic and natural interaction between them that ends up with one of them belly laughing, and I find that makes the broadcast really pleasant to listen to.”
Mr. Frazier, who is better known to a legion of younger hoops fans for his colorful wardrobe and lyrical analysis — “The Knicks were crashing and dashing in the first half, now they’re stumbling and bumbling,” he said during a telecast earlier this season and possibly many other times this season — will again be seated alongside Mr. Breen at the Knicks broadcast table when the Detroit Pistons arrive tonight at Madison Square Garden.
“We both enjoy laughing together on the air,” said Mr. Breen, who noted that an action poster of Mr. Frazier still hangs in the bedroom of the Westchester home where he grew up, and where his mother lives.
“Obviously what we are talking about is important, it’s basketball, it’s the Knicks,” said Mr. Breen, who now lives on Long Island. “But to have some fun while we’re working, that’s been a real key over the years.”
And when situations arise that are no laughing matter, they know they can agree to disagree.
“In all honesty, Mike and I have never had an argument off the air, but we’ve disagreed on-air,” Mr. Frazier said. “When that happens, we take off the headsets and remind each other that we have our own opinions, and then one of us will usually say something like, ‘Hey man, that was good,’ and we move on.”
Mr. Breen said that he and Mr. Frazier also “understand the importance of being good listeners, and knowing when to let each other speak.”
“It’s never a good idea for any two people to try and talk over one another,” Mr. Breen said. “There are certain things that I will bring up that Clyde knows I’m passionate about, and he lets me have my space.
“And when he’s talking about something he’s passionate about I just sit back and let him go, and the viewer gets analysis from one of the greatest players of all-time, as beloved an athlete as we have ever had in any sport, someone who has taught the game to generations of fans.”
To Mr. Frazier, it’s all a part of the job. “A job that I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do,” he said.
“Mike’s the play-by-play man, and I’m the color analyst,” he said. “I know that he always goes first, he leads and I follow. It’s no different than having a dance partner.”
Mr. Breen and Mr. Frazier both said that at the root of every solid relationship is a solid friendship, like theirs.
“It’s hard for me to believe that the athlete I admired most when I was growing up is now my broadcast partner and best friend,” Mr. Breen said. “My wife just loves the sound of Clyde’s voice and when my kids come to the Garden and come by to say hello after games, he treats them like his own family.
“That was my dad’s favorite thing, coming by after games and hanging out with Clyde,” said Mr. Breen, whose voice went silent for a moment before cracking with emotion. “When my dad passed away, Clyde came to his wake, and the way he treated my mother that night, well, these are things you never forget, these are things that really tell you about a person.”
Mr. Frazier let his play-by-play man have his space before bringing a smile to his longtime partner’s face.
“You know, Mike, when we first started out together I remember you telling me, ‘Hey, Clyde, just be yourself, say whatever you want to say,’” Mr. Frazier said. “I know you’re regretting that now, 20 years later.”