In Gus We Trust

Given that the internet love for the man who quickly became my favorite play-by-play presence on college basketball broadcasts (Bill Raftery occupies the color spot) is spreading so much that it’s begun infiltrating L.A. Daily News columns, I should articulate why every game Gus Johnson calls for CBS this March is always a must-watch game for me, personally.

  1. I like someone who gives a shit about the game on the floor, honestly. You want someone to be impartial, but also enjoying the game — and he loves it when he sees awesome plays no matter which team’s making them.
  2. He’s Gary Thorne with a dimmer dial rather than an on-off switch. I’ve loved Thorne in certain arenas, but others seem inappropriate. Gus always knows when to dial down and when to ramp it up.
  3. He makes the most dull of color guys look good. This may throw a bit of a hole in my “pair him with Raf” theory, because both might need the space — but Clark Kellogg and Len Elmore are not exactly exciting folks.

Johnson’s calling the Pac-10 Tournament final on Saturday, and I’ll be watching, of course — and it’s nice to read that his bosses at CBS are encouraging him to do what he does.

One time, Johnson tried to artificially rein it in was when calling a San Diego Chargers game on CBS a few years ago. LaDainian Tomlinson broke off a long touchdown run, and “instead of being myself, I was like Chris Schenkel,” Johnson said, referring to the late ABC broadcaster who had a far more subdued personality on the air.

“I hear a voice in my ear right away, ‘What was that?’ ” Johnson said. “My boss had called the production truck (and said) ‘Tell Gus to stop messing around. Be himself.’ ”

That boss was executive producer Tony Petitti.

For more evidence, I’ll link to a CBS-compiled YouTube clip of calls from 2007’s tourney (and fuck you right in the ear, Eye, for disabling embedding.)

Embrace the “Gus Factor” [LA Daily News]


2 Responses

  1. My favorie Gus call will always be the ’06 UCLA-Gonzaga game.

    “Batista with the caaaatch!”

    It’s sounded like he’s getting shanked in the chest by Deebo with a rusty screwdriver. And I loved every second of it.

  2. There are only two national PBP guys that could make reading a phone book exciting, IMO; Gus Johnson and Verne Lundquist. And thankfully, Raftery gets paired with both guys.

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