It’s not quite the San Jose Earthquakes, but Gus Johnson is going back to calling professional sports. For the 2015 season, Johnson will be returning to his roots and calling local NBA games in addition to his work for Fox Sports and Big Ten Network.
Johnson’s team might be one you would not expect. The bombastic play by play man will call 20 games this year for the up and coming Milwaukee Bucks as part of an alternate broadcast team with new analyst Marques Johnson.
Via Sports Illustrated:
Rise and fire, Milwaukee Bucks fans, Gus Johnson is heading your way.
The Fox Sports announcer has been hired by the NBA franchise (and Fox Sports Wisconsin) to call 20 Bucks games during the 2015-16 NBA regular season. As of yet, Johnson does not know the specific games he will call, but he said in an interview on Monday afternoon that they’ll be a mix of home and away games. Johnson will call the NBA games in between his college football and college basketball assignments for Fox Sports 1.
Johnson said he has spent a lot of time in Wisconsin during his broadcasting career calling college football for Fox and the Big Ten Network, as well as stops in Milwaukee during his time as a Knicks radio and television announcer for MSG Networks from 1997 to 2010.
How did Johnson end up getting the Milwaukee assignment? Johnson said he was contacted by Mike McCarthy, the former CEO of the St. Louis Blues and a longtime executive for MSG Networks (where he and Johnson worked together). McCarthy asked Johnson if he was interested in returning to call NBA games. After Johnson told him he was, McCarthy said the Bucks could be interested as well, and the two sides eventually came to an agreement.
“I’m going to be myself and bring what I bring to the table,” Johnson said, “I’m calling the best basketball in the world and I’ll hopefully come up with a new vision of the game because I have been away from it for so long. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be part of this organization, which is on the rise, and to be back in the National Basketball Association. I missed it.”
This is an interesting move because Milwaukee has a long-time broadcast duo of Jim Paschke and Jon McGlocklin, who are in their 30th season calling games together for the franchise. Bringing in a couple outsiders on part-time duty is a bold and distinctive move (Marques Johnson will call 55 games this year according to SI while Gus Johnson will call 20). Taking such an established pair who have been so synonymous with the Bucks off any games is somewhat risky – McGlocklin is touted on the Bucks website as “The Original Buck” being with the franchise as a player, front office member, and announcer since they began operations in 1968. Perhaps the Bucks are looking towards the future though and this is the beginning of a transition period where we may see more of Gus Johnson in future seasons if his Fox schedule would allow for it.
Gus went through quite the roller coaster ride with his Fox soccer odyssey, but he’s always been at his best calling basketball. It might not be March Madness, but a return to the NBA is a welcome development for Johnson and for his fans.