Monday, August 25, 2008
Gus Johnson is everywhere these days. From the NCAA Tournament to MMA to the NFL, and most recently even Slamball. Back when I interviewed Gus in December, he seemed to love one role more than the others. His role with the Knicks came across as the one he was most proud of , but now it could be in jeopardy.
Daily News has word, that MSG is giving Johnson the run around now that his contract has expired, and that the announcer might not return to Madison Square Garden next NBA season....
How are the negotiations going? Here's where it gets sticky. The same sources said MSG Network brass - boss Mike Bair and executive producer Lydia Murphy-Stephans - are playing hardball with Johnson over terms of a new deal.It would seem beyond crazy for MSG to not bring back Gus if the money is right, but if I were him I wouldn't take it personally. There are, and will be, plenty of opportunities down the road. His crossover potential is unprecedented for someone his age and his popularity with fans just across multiple Sports continues to grow.
Would these two be bubbleheaded enough not to ink Johnson? The Excitable One has spent 10 seasons as part of MSG's Knicks radio team - the past five as the Knicks' No. 1 radiocaster, working with veteran analyst John (Legend) Andariese.
The fact that it's almost September and MSG has not come to terms with Johnson is a tad strange. Especially considering what's taking place on the court.
The broadcast end of the operation will be key in describing the transition to friend and foe alike. Johnson should be part of this. He's been with MSG through mostly bad times. If this is the start of a turnaround, Johnson has the chops to chronicle the franchise's resurrection on the radio.
Did Johnson cut Isiah Thomas major slack and spread MSGulag party propaganda? Yep. He, along with all the other MSG Knicks voices who joined him, have been ripped to shreds in this space. A new day may be dawning. Johnson took the heat. He has thick skin and a unique style. His calls are full of over-the-top passion. The man has a following.
Perhaps this has actually dawned on Bair and Murphy-Stephans. But who knows what these two are thinking? After all, their regime has not made anyone forget about those grand days when MSG was the Rolls-Royce of regional cable sports networks.
Hopefully everything works out for Knicks and NBA fans, but you'll be able to find him elsewhere if MSG decides to give up on one of the good things they have going for them.
MSG plays tough with Knicks voice Gus Johnon (NY Daily News)
The Gus Johnson Interview (Awful Announcing)