In a move that illustrates just how in touch the organization is with its fan base and the basketball-loving public in general, MSG Network (the folks responsible for broadcasts of New York Knicks games) has let the most exciting play-by-play announcer working today slip from their grasp. That’s right — they let Gus Johnson get away.
Johnson has been calling Knicks games for 16 years, primarily on radio but acting as a backup for TV broadcasts, and even chipping with some baseball, hockey, and arena football duties as well . A few outlets claimed that MSG Network brass were ticked off at Johnson’s various other projects which caused him to miss the occasional Knicks game — little things like doing college basketball and NFL football games for CBS and boxing for Showtime — and that’s why MSG played hardball, refusing to come to a deal in the end. Later in the day, though, we heard that it might not have been quite so contentious. Still, with Johnson’s popularity, MSG should have done whatever it could have to keep him.
We’re not taking pleasure in a man losing a job, but we’re selfishly hoping that, as soon as this happened, someone from CBS called and immediately gave Johnson a mountain of cash in a big juicy revised contract that increases his college basketball visibility. As many games as Johnson already does — we want more. And don’t lie — you know you’ve been to the Gus Johnson Soundboard. We defy you to go there and not click every one of those buttons before leaving (though a link to “Don’t let the smooth taste fool ya!” is needed). It’s impossible not to. What other announcer has this? Seems like the type of guy you’d want to keep in your organization, but then again, most Knicks fans these days see that orgainzation and the MSG suits as the types who probably would have told that Paraguayan model Larissa Riquelme not to run through the streets of Asuncion naked had Paraguay won the World Cup. Whatever, guys. As long as it benefits college hoops.