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.
“Milwaukee was always one of my favorite places to go when I traveled with the Knicks,” Johnson said. “They have a drink there that’s pretty good. It’s called beer.”
One of the reasons Johnson said he found the 20-game gig appealing was because of the talent level on the Bucks, who finished 41-41 last year and made the playoffs.
“They have Jabari Parker coming back, Greg Monroe from the Pistons who will be a great presence inside, O.J. Mayo, Michael Carter-Williams is talented, and Jason Kidd was one of the great players of his time and a terrific young coach,” Johnson said. “I think it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity to cover a talented young team.”
Johnson said he’s taking the Bucks assignment on a year-by-year basis “but in my heart of hearts, I hope this is something I get an opportunity to do for a long time.”
Along with the Johnson hire, the Bucks will also add another announcer with experience at the network level. Marques Johnson, who was drafted No. 3 overall by Milwaukee in 1977 and was a three-time All-NBA Player while with the Bucks, will serve as an analyst on approximately 55 local telecasts. Johnson has previously worked as a college basketball analyst at Fox Sports and has also done studio work for the Lakers and Clippers broadcasts. The longtime Bucks television announcers are Jim Paschke and Jon McGlocklin, who return for their 30th season of calling games and will work the FSW broadcasts not involving the firm of Johnson & Johnson. Bucks management said they added the two Johnsons as part of an ownership effort to have a network-caliber broadcast.
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.”
Credit to Sports Illustrated who originally published this article