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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gus Johnson Grants Access to His Mind, Lives Changed

First off, BREAKING NEWS ALERT: Gus Johnson, according to the
fucking man himself, will broadcast the first FOUR rounds of March Madness this year, after doing just two last year when the excruciating, non-enraptured James Brown took his gig.

Second, BREAKING NEWS ALERT: On Gus' Web site, Gus Johnson Sports, you can now get Gus Johnson ring tones! Gus Tones, they are called and apparently he uses his signature voice to announce that your favorite team in any sport (including soccer) has won the championship. There aren't that many up right now but, trust me on this, they are absolutely stunning. I've always longed for Gus to be a bigger part of my life and now my day has come.

The news came on Bill Simmons podcast today, of which Gus was the guest. Say what you want about Simmons, but he started the whole Gus movement on the Interwebs, a deed that Gus himself thanked Simmons for firsthand.

As for the podcast, depending on who you are, it is utterly fascinating or completely incoherent. For me, it was like peering into the Bucket of Truth, 40 minutes of sheer brilliance from one of the great oppressed minds of our generation. Gus, who is riding in a cab for most of the conversation and then picks up his kids who are screaming in the background (they have Gus' own golden throat, too), graces us with his entire career trajectory, a story that begins humbly, but as we know ends in greatness:

Highlights from the podcast after the jump.


On the Knicks: "They have no chemistry. Like I don't know if they like each other, they don't hang out with each other, they don't drink beers with each other, they don't go chase girls with each other, they don't go to clubs with each other. They don't have one sun to orbit around, it's a bunch of different planets in their own rotation instead of having one planet, one personality, one light, that one leader, they don't have leadership man. They don't have that one guy that everyone orbits around. A guy that keeps everything nice and cool and warm."

"They need to talk to each other, it's all about communication. We as guys sometimes, because we have these big egos, this macho crap, sometimes we need to take a page from the girls and sit down and have a conversation and talk about what's going on and how we can improve our interpersonal relationships-- you have a good day too sir-- I'm getting out of a New York City cab."

Moments later: "Can I get a receipt? We know how these guys are, they'll take you on a ride if they can."

On Marbury, invites Simmons to Coney Island: "When you come into the city and you get a chance, I'm going to take you over there. To those projects over there in Coney Island. You gotta see that Billy. Nobody cares when you're over there and in order to get out of there you have to have a selfishness about yourself."

On whether he would want to play w/Marbury: "Yeah I would. He's a dope basketball player... If I played with Stephon Marbury I'd be his big cheerleader, but at the same time I'd be hard on him. I'd be like, hey man, me and you need to go in the back and fight because you're not playing right. We need to back in there and just knuckle up because you are way too talented." (Simmons laughs... Gus does not).

On David Lee: "My favorite player on the Knicks is David Lee. When he's on the floor, my nickname for him is Mr. Good Things, because good things happen when he is on the floor. He's unselfish, he knows how to pass the ball... When he's on the floor they play better, which is ironic because they got all these brothas on the team and David Lee is the only white guy on the team. I see him by himself a lot. It's a hard fit. He told me one time, 'Listen man, I kinda understand what it's like to be the only black guy in a white office.'"

At this point he explains how he played baseball in college ("I couldn't run, I was the slowest black dude of all time"), was a political science major, worked at a law office, decided it was too hard and stumbled upon a broadcasting internship by complete luck. Gus Johnson, man of destiny. He then rifles off all his past broadcasting gigs.

On Huntsville, Alabama: "Worst period of my life. They renamed me AC Johnson because there was another guy, a sportscaster, named Gus. They had a rebel flag on the morning show set."

On his excitement: "I had a chance to take some acting classes and what a teacher told me was you have to, with each line, be able to raise the stakes, to build drama. Conflict equals drama. Identify the conflicts in the game to build them up to make a dramatic moment, once it pops! I don't care who is playing, me and you could play one on one and there could be some things happening and I'm calling the game, there's gonna be some things that happen that bring conflict. Once that conflict is there, we got drama. Say I foul you hard or you give me an elbow and you see on my face, 'Oh, this guy elbowed me, I'm about to go mess him up now.'"

"I love ball man. I love games, I love games that people play. I think the games people play tells us a lot about ourselves. I look at this Knick team. They tell us a lot about a dark side of us as human beings, about our selfishness, our insecurities, our inability to connect with each other on the most basic of levels."

On Internet popularity: "I'm so thankful to you Bill, I don't know why you chose me. You helped change my life. I gotta give it up to you. You helped me in my life. You brought light to me and my work and it's changed my life, you and your fans. Because of the positive things that have been said through the Bill Simmons nation has turned a lot of heads. Hey guys, I really, REALLY appreciate it."

On Simmons' suggestion that he announce Survivor: "Oh I would love to call Survivor. That's a great show but that needs to be amped up some more, there needs to be some conflict going on in that thing... That would be cool! That's a great idea. I kinda like that."

On an alternate Survivor: "You know I had a great idea for Survivor where you take all those cats, those same kind of cats, that same demographic of the actress girl and the grungy lady and the military dude and the cowboy and you take them, and instead of taking them to some remote island, you take them and put them in like, the middle of Cabrini Green, or the worst project in the country. Then we'd really see if they can survive. They have some hell of challenges then."

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