GOLDSTEIN: Gus Johnson is perfect fit for new-look Bucks

Photos courtesy Milwaukee Bucks and Fox Sports Wisconsin.

Photos courtesy Milwaukee Bucks and Fox Sports Wisconsin.

Andrew Goldstein,


The Milwaukee Bucks announced on Monday that Gus Johnson will be doing play-by-play broadcasting for 20 games this season on Fox Sports. Hardcore college football and basketball fans already know why this is glorious, glorious news, but for Bucks fans who have never heard of Gus Johnson, let me tell you why you ought to be excited.

Think about any sporting event that you’ve ever watched on television. How often do you really notice who the broadcasters are or what they’re saying? Not often, right? Perhaps some of them have a distinguishing catchphrase, accent or vocal tic, but that’s about the extent of their relevance. In other words, you’re probably not going to flip on a football game and stay tuned solely because of the announcers.

Well, unless it’s Gus, that is.

Johnson’s greatest distinguishing characteristic is how he reacts to big plays and close endings. One might call him excitable, but that would be a massive undersell – akin to calling the Grand Canyon a big hole in the ground. Gus doesn’t just get excited; he goes five-alarm, full-throated, wake-up-the-neighborhood nuts.

When someone hits a game-winning shot, other announcers may raise their voice and quicken their pace. Gus lets out a primal “OOOOOHHHHH!!!!!” shout in much the same way that you or I might. Other announcers might say, “Parker shoots a three, and it’s good!” Gus will yell, “Parker! Rise and fire…COUNT IT!” or, simply, “PURE!” Other announcers go out of their way to not sound like a fan, whereas Gus can’t help but show his pride.

That last point is what endears so many people to Johnson. He cannot hide his enthusiasm for the game. Too many announcers seem like they’re talking at their listeners, but Gus always seems to be talking with us. He’s just another fan of the game. A supremely knowledgeable, particularly crazy fan.

I want to be a sportscaster for a living, but I’ll admit that there are days when I feel frustrated or burnt out. When that happens, I like to pull up a clip of Gus Johnson announcing an Ohio State-Xavier basketball game from 2007. After Xavier made a three-point basket to force overtime, here is how Gus transitioned to a commercial.

“And we’re going to overtime. In LEXINGTON! HA-HA! College Basketball! CBS Sports! This. Is. MARCH MADNESS!!!”

Every single time I listen to that, I can’t stop smiling. Johnson makes sports fun, even more so than they already are. Now the people of Milwaukee are going to get to experience that firsthand.

Bottom line: Bucks fans are in for a very big treat this season.