Praise be to Awful Announcing for the image.
One of basketball's most exciting (and excitable) announcers might be running headlong into a season of unemployment. Awful Announcing reports this morning that all is not well at Madison Square Garden. Gus Johnson, he of the manic screams and voracious fanbase, and MSG have not progressed well with contract negotiations.
It's a tricky situation in New York. Gus has been there, and been good, for quite some time. However, the NY Daily News paints him as an Isiah apologist and someone who has been with the Knicks through the worst of times. With a new regime running the show, would it be such a bad idea to bring in a new voice and a new spirit to help salvage alienated fans and hopefully envelope new ones? I don't know. As a guy who personally splits his loyalties between the NBA and College, I wouldn't mind seeing Gus do more ACC games or nationally prominent prime time NCAA matchups. But, on the NBA side, if he really is out in New York (I'd say it's probably inching closer to 50/50), where would be a good spot for GuJo to land? I think Gus could have a fairly significant impact on a new team, using his wild and crazy style as an inconspicuous (never thought I would use that word in discussing Johnson) way to make a particular franchise more appealing and watchable. So, where might he be good?
(Bare in mind, that when I throw out these options, I have little or no concept of how good the main team announcers are in each respective city. Some may have a great fan base who has been loyal to a sportscaster for years, while others may have come and gone as frequently as a bottle of scotch on Mad Men.)
NEW ORLEANS: We all saw this past year how exciting Chris Paul and his team can be? Imagine using the volcanic eruptions of Gus to describe the dizzying amount of alley-oops Paul will be setting up for Chandler, Wright and Co. this year. Plus, he can help keep this fan base (and yes, it feels good to think that NOLA has a fan base finally) energized and excited as the team continues to grow and blossom.
MEMPHIS: Could be a great 1-2 punch for Gus. He has this super young and talented Grizzlies team as his main gig. Then, he can perhaps work out a local deal to give him some time with the Tigers NCAA team, which will still be super athletic and explosive. Best of both worlds for fans of both entities. And, you know, there would be plenty of pics with him and O.J. Mayo hitting Beale Street, doing the Cupid Shuffle. Internet gold, my friends.
MIAMI: Another team who has almost completely made over itself, the Heat (especially with the FREAKIN' AWESOME, new and improved DWade 2.0) should be vaulting back up the Eastern Conference contender charts. Put Gus down on South Beach and he could make a splash (yes, bad pun intended). Who knows what Eric Spoelstra is going to do with this team, at least until Riley takes it back over, but with Wade, Beasley and Marion running and gunning this year, Gus can put his bombastic talents to great use in the Heat network.
NEW YORK: Look, just keep the guy at MSG. He wants to be there. He loves the Knicks. And, I bet if the blogosphere tried hard enough, we could get him to grow a mustache like D'Antoni. Once D and Walsh transform this team (and if they don't, who will?) in a couple years, Gus could be sitting right on top of the most athletic, uptempo team in the league. He would be dynamite for that gig.
In the interim, expect some more updates on this mini-saga. After all, we still have a long way to go before the season starts. And it sure would be nice to hear ole Gus blast us off into a wacky 2008/9 season.