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Gus and Marques Johnson Are Energizing Bucks Broadcasts

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This isn’t just a gig for them. Gus Johnson and Marques Johnson have demanding careers and full appointment calendars and busy personal lives.

They came here, to Milwaukee, because they saw history, beauty and jazz on a basketball court. And because they were filled with nostalgia and respect.

That’s why Gus Johnson, 48, and Marques Johnson, 59, understand this young, talented and sometimes maddening Bucks basketball team. They help us appreciate the brilliance that can be unveiled in one great play and then allow for commiseration when everything collapses on the next.

It is that viewpoint and fresh perspective that makes Gus Johnson and Marques Johnson a welcome addition to the Fox Sports Wisconsin TV team, as they now complement the 30-year on-air partnership of Jim Paschke and Jon McGlocklin. Gus is working about 20 games this season in a play-by-play role and Marques is working 55 as an analyst, while being paired with both Paschke and Gus.

The next time Gus and Marques are scheduled to work together is Dec. 15 in Los Angeles when the Bucks face the soon-to-be retiring Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at the Staples Center.

They will entertain (Gus) and enlighten (Marques) while bringing their insights and highlights to the Bucks audience.

It’s a new partnership, but not a first introduction.

“When I got the call? It was done,” Gus said. “Bucks games? Yes. Make it happen. I want to do that.”

NBA fans know Gus and his legendary love for the game. That knowledge of the NBA goes back to the 1970s, and his childhood.

“We used to watch a lot of ball, me and my dad,” he said.

Augustine Johnson was the maintenance man at Cobo Hall in Detroit. He’d come home and tell his son about bolting down the floors and putting up the hoops for the Pistons before their games. The father passed down the love of the game to the son, and together they mourned the loss of Bob Lanier when he was traded to the Bucks — to play with Marques.

“It broke everybody’s heart,” Gus said. “Bob is such a good man. He used to come to the Boys Club when I was a kid.”

Gus’ well-known play-by-play career has covered everything from the Champions League, La Liga, English Premier League, Serie A, FA Cup, NFL, WNBA, Major League Baseball and the Detroit Tigers, bobsled and the luge at the Winter Olympics, college football and basketball, mixed martial arts and boxing. But his loyalty remains true.

“No league is better than the NBA,” he said.

This is now his 15th year in the NBA; he worked 13 years calling New York Knicks games and one with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

“It’s art to me. It’s jazz,” Gus said. “It’s Thelonious Monk. John Coltrane. Miles Davis. Dizzy Gillespie. Duke Ellington. I see that every night I’m at an NBA game.”

Marques Johnson was well familiar with Gus’ play-by-play work. He was calling Seattle SuperSonics games in the 1990s when Gus was doing the same for the Knicks. Gus called one of Marques’ all-time favorite games: UCLA and Gonzaga in the 2006 NCAA Tournament: “The steal! Heartbreak city!”

“He just took it home, and made it his own,” Marques said.

Working with Gus was a big draw. But coming back to Milwaukee was more involved for him.

Marques spent seven years here in an 11-year career, from 1977-’84, but it’s not necessarily the five consecutive division championships that first come to mind, or the six winning seasons, or the all-star games or the 10,980 points he scored for Milwaukee.

It was, of course, the inhospitable weather for the Californian. The winter of 1976-’77 was the fifth-coldest in Wisconsin history, and two winters after that it was the sixth-coldest. He also experienced some of our snowier months ever.

“Back then the only thing I knew about Milwaukee was what I’d seen on ‘Laverne & Shirley’ and ‘Happy Days’,” Marques said.

Arriving here with just a polyester overcoat, he remembers leaving the MECCA late one night after a game only to find the lock on his car had frozen. He was alone.

“And I’m panicking, and I’m freezing, and Lloyd Walton my teammate, from Marquette, happened to pass by,” he said. “He showed me the old trick of how to light the lock with a cigarette lighter.

“I had two or three accidents that year driving on the ice. Took out the neighbor’s mailboxes on two or three occasions. You know, you hit the brakes, start sliding — and don’t know how to stop.

“It was just the misadventures of MJ. Everybody kept telling me, ‘The weather isn’t normally this bad.’ I was like, ‘Right. You can have this.'”

He laughs about it now, but there’s an appreciation about it as well. He grew up here. He got strong here. And he would need that strength.

Read the rest of the article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel where it was originally published

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Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII

“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”

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The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.

Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.

Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.

Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.

Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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