March 20, 2011
Gus Johnson...Love him or Hate him?
In my opinion there is nothing better than hearing the voice of Gus Johnson calling an opening weekend game amidst the hoopla that is the NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament. Many people have written about Gus and his ability to become so emotionally vested in each game he calls that as I write this I can’t help but think I am beating a dead horse. Nevertheless, the excitement, enthusiasm, and emotion that Gus brings to each and every game he calls is unparalleled by any other play-by-play announcer out there today. The aspect that makes him so enjoyable to viewers and fans at home is that he is just like them; he perfectly captures the passion and sentiment of every fan sitting on their couch watching the game with him. This is why Gus Johnson is so successful announcing the NCAA tournament and March Madness would never be the same without him.
Many people love all that Gus has to offer, yet, many feel he detracts from the game and he is “a gimmick announcer.” Critics say he doesn’t follow the textbook play-by-play announcing creed in letting the game do the talking. Jim Nantz, Joe Buck, and Dick Enberg, some of the greats in play-by-play announcing are widely known for calling the game but letting the game speak for itself. However, I think that’s what makes Gus so unique and exciting to listen to, he doesn’t follow what every other announcer does, he leaves his emotions on his sleeve and relates to every fan out there watching the game he is calling. Sitting and watching #8 seed George Mason take on #9 seed Villanova in the first round match-up of the East bracket, the game went down to the wire with George Mason pulling it out in the final seconds. Yet, one could not miss Gus raising his voice a few octaves and screaming his patented “HA-HA!” as George Mason hit a big three late in the game. As Villanova, tried to tie the game and a scramble for the loose ball ensued, all you can hear is Gus screaming “OHHHHHHHHH!!!!” waiting for someone to come out of the scrum with the ball. Fans elicit the same exact reaction Gus does, creating the exact reason why I think Gus Johnson is unlike any other announcer out there today.
Gus doesn’t have the best voice in the world, nor is he the most proficient broadcaster like a Buck or Nantz, and nor does he deliver the best analysis like a Dick Enberg or Brent Musberger. But at the end of the day, Gus relates to a wide range of people, the die-hard fan sitting at home at the edge of his seat as the game hangs in the balance as well as the average fan that is looking for some good entertainment on a Saturday afternoon. Gus may not be the best around but he is emotional, passionate, crazy, exciting, but most importantly, a staple of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
To hear Gus Johnson's final call of the George Mason v. Villanova game from Thursday: