Welcome to episode No. 35 of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch. In this podcast, which is published weekly, Deitsch interviews members of the sports media about their work and interesting people about the sports media. This week's guest is Fox Sports college football and college basketball play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson, one of the most popular broadcasters among fans for his word play and enthusiasm. Johnson is calling a part-time schedule this season for the Milwaukee Bucks. He’s also previously worked for CBS and famously called many great moments at the NCAA tournament.
In this episode, Johnson discusses his preparation for calling different sports, how much he misses calling the NCAA Tournament, his year-long journey calling international soccer and ultimately walking away from it, working with a variety of analysts over the years, from Bill Raftery to Joel Klatt, why he'd love to call a game with Al Michaels and Marv Albert — and no analysts; how he came up with some of his well known expressions including "I'm Al Harrington — and I get buckets!"; his broadcasting start at Howard University; his admiration for longtime Pistons broadcaster George Blaha, how fans intereact with him, the advice he'd give to young broadcasters and much more.
At the 39-minute mark, Johnson explains how he brokered piece between a feuding Bill Simmons and Isiah Thomas a couple of years ago. Johnson had long been close with Thomas and respected Simmons' work. While all were in Las Vegas for summer league play, Johnson was lounging at a hotel pool in Las Vegas, where most people were topless and most of the NBA officials and media were hanging out. When Thomas told Johnson that he and Simmons had "beef," Johnson said he walked Thomas over to Simmons. Said Johnson: "I said, "Bill, this is Isiah. Isiah, This is Bill." You guys worked it out. And I left and went back my margarita and making sure everything at the pool was cool."
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