Rise and fire, Milwaukee Bucks fans, Gus Johnson is heading your way.
The Fox Sports announcer has been hired by the NBA franchise (and Fox Sports Wisconsin) to call 20 Bucks games during the 2015-16 NBA regular season. As of yet, Johnson does not know the specific games he will call, but he said in an interview on Monday afternoon that they’ll be a mix of home and away games. Johnson will call the NBA games in between his college football and college basketball assignments for Fox Sports 1.
Johnson said he has spent a lot of time in Wisconsin during his broadcasting career calling college football for Fox and the Big Ten Network, as well as stops in Milwaukee during his time as a Knicks radio and television announcer for MSG Networks from 1997 to 2010.
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“Milwaukee was always one of my favorite places to go when I traveled with the Knicks,” Johnson said. “They have a drink there that’s pretty good. It’s called beer.”
One of the reasons Johnson said he found the 20-game gig appealing was because of the talent level on the Bucks, who finished 41-41 last year and made the playoffs.
“They have Jabari Parker coming back, Greg Monroe from the Pistons who will be a great presence inside, O.J. Mayo, Michael Carter-Williams is talented, and Jason Kidd was one of the great players of his time and a terrific young coach,” Johnson said. “I think it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity to cover a talented young team.”
Johnson said he’s taking the Bucks assignment on a year-by-year basis “but in my heart of hearts, I hope this is something I get an opportunity to do for a long time.”
Along with the Johnson hire, the Bucks will also add another announcer with experience at the network level. Marques Johnson, who was drafted No. 3 overall by Milwaukee in 1977 and was a three-time All-NBA Player while with the Bucks, will serve as an analyst on approximately 55 local telecasts. Johnson has previously worked as a college basketball analyst at Fox Sports and has also done studio work for the Lakers and Clippers broadcasts. The longtime Bucks television announcers are Jim Paschke and Jon McGlocklin, who return for their 30th season of calling games and will work the FSW broadcasts not involving the firm of Johnson & Johnson. Bucks management said they added the two Johnsons as part of an ownership effort to have a network-caliber broadcast.
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How did Johnson end up getting the Milwaukee assignment? Johnson said he was contacted by Mike McCarthy, the former CEO of the St. Louis Blues and a longtime executive for MSG Networks (where he and Johnson worked together). McCarthy asked Johnson if he was interested in returning to call NBA games. After Johnson told him he was, McCarthy said the Bucks could be interested as well, and the two sides eventually came to an agreement.
“I’m going to be myself and bring what I bring to the table,” Johnson said, “I’m calling the best basketball in the world and I’ll hopefully come up with a new vision of the game because I have been away from it for so long. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be part of this organization, which is on the rise, and to be back in the National Basketball Association. I missed it.”
THE NOISE REPORT
1. The Cowboys win over Giants on NBC’s Sunday Night Football drew a 16.7 overnight rating, the best SNF opener best since 2012 and up 11 percent from 2014. The top markets were: Dallas, San Antonio, Albuquerque, Richmond and Austin.
2. No network has more NFL coverage on Sundays than the NFL Network, which this year will offer more than 15 hours of live coverage every NFL Sunday beginning at 7 a.m. ET with NFL GameDay First, hosted by Melissa Stark, Shaun O’Hara, Michael Robinson and Brian Billick. The network’s signature pregame show NFL–GameDay Morning–begins at 9 a.m.
The rest of the NFL Network’s Sunday schedule can be seen here.
Sports Business Daily media reporter John Ourand reported that the NFL has produced four original, non-studio shows that will appear on NFL Network this fall, and it plans to use CBS’s broadcast reach to help build an audience for them. For the first time, the NFL will premiere one of its shows, Undrafted, on CBS before moving it to NFL Network. The NFL Network’s original programming including a new documentary series called Football Town, which will explore small towns and cities where football is being played. “The overall plan is to build a programming franchise that people care about and that people want to come back and watch, whether it’s on the NFL Network or NFL Now or wherever we put it,” Brian Rolapp, an NFL executive vice president, told Ourand. “Originals help us do that. Studio programming plays an important part. But it’s also fleeting in nature; it doesn’t stand up very well outside of the day it’s produced.”
3. The 18th episode of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features ESPN digital host Antonietta (Toni) Collins, who anchors news and analysis video segments in every sport category for ESPN.com and has also hosted studio shows for the network. In the episode, Collins talks about how she got her start in journalism, what it's like being the only Latina reporter in locker rooms, the benefits and challenges of being a bilingual reporter, how the coverage of Hispanic athletes can improve, what she's learned from her mother María Antonieta Collins, a well-known broadcast journalist in Mexico, what she hopes is next for her career and more. A reminder: you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and you can view all of SI's podcasts here.
4. The Pro Football Hall of Fame now has its own radio show. On Saturday SiriusXM NFL Radio debuted Pro Football Hall of Fame Radio hosted by Pro Football Hall of Fame executive vice president Joe Horrigan and longtime sports broadcaster Howard Balzer. The show will have a featured co-host (this week it was Anthony Munoz) and weekly Gold Jacket guests (Saturday’s guests were Fran Tarkenton and Bob Lilly.) SiriusXM said Horrigan and Balzer will talk at length with their Hall of Fame co-host about his career and listeners will be invited to call in to share stories and memories. The show will air every Saturday from 2-4 p.m. ET on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
5. Sports Business Daily reporter Josh Carpenter reported that ESPN earned a 2.4 overnight rating for Novak Djokovic’s four-set win over Roger Federer, the first time ESPN had exclusive broadcast rights to the final. CBS earned a 2.8 overnight for Rafael Nadal’s four-set win over Djokovic in 2013, which aired on Monday afternoon. SBJ reported that Flavia Pennetta’s win over Roberta Vinci in the women’s final Saturday afternoon earned ESPN a 1.5 overnight rating. CBS drew a 4.0 overnight last year for Williams’ win over Caroline Wozniacki on a Saturday afternoon in 2014.
5a. This piece by New Yorker writer Patrick Radden Keefe, on the defense lawyer representing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is a fascinating read.