Gus Johnson Freaked Out, and It Wasn’t on the Radio

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Photo: Getty Images

Few voices are as closely connected to the NCAA tournament as that of Gus Johnson, the play-by-play man who moves between excitable and wildly intense. (The most famous example of the latter would be his meltdown during the Gonzaga-UCLA game in the 2006 tournament; you can also find an amusing compendium of 2007 Gus Johnson screams here.) Johnson also does radio play-by-play for the Knicks, where he’s slightly more subdued, if only because it’s, you know, the Knicks.

Apparently, Johnson is just as excitable off the court; last weekend, after covering the first round of the Big Ten tournament for the Big Ten Network (another Gus Johnson staple: taking any and every job he’s offered), he, as reported by Deadspin, got into a fight with a Memphis bar manager over “service” that ended with the two men “on the ground struggling with each other.” Johnson was eventually led away in handcuffs, but he was not arrested; both men declined to press charges.

Strangely, neither New York tabloid has reported on the Johnson “incident” yet. Johnson, who is all set to do his regular broadcast work today (he’s covering the four games in Minneapolis: Kansas–North Dakota State, West Virginia–Dayton, Boston College–USC, and Michigan State–Robert Morris), has made no official comment on the incident and neither CBS nor the Knicks have commented, either. But the lesson stands: If you serve Johnson in a restaurant, it’s best that you get him his steak in a timely fashion — lest he register his discontent with a thrilling vocal, or perhaps even physical, performance.