Gus Johnson has a history with the Northwest. From his iconic "the slipper still fits" call after Gonzaga beat Florida to his two-word description of "the runner," Gus has been a part of March Madness lore for as long as I can remember. On Saturday, as Isaiah Thomas connected on a step-back two at the buzzer to lift Washington to the Pac-10 Tournament title, Gus added to his impressive repertoire of classic calls, exclaiming "COLD BLODDED" while describing Washington's pint-sized assassin.
First, let's take a look back at some of the best of Gus. Gonzaga plays a big role in the clip, from Gus exclaiming "Larry Bird! Maybe!" after Adam Morrison banks in a three during the Battle in Seattle to "Heartbreak City" after UCLA knocks off the Zags in the NCAA Tournament.
There's no question in my mind: Gus Johnson is March Madness. Not Jim Nantz or Clark Kellogg; just Gus. And he does a brilliant job.
Part of what endears him to me is his everyman way of calling the game. He shows emotion, lives and dies with all the action and calls it as a fan would. He rides the waves, increasing the volume and tempo as the action heats up. And it's absolutely brilliant. At no time was this more evident than last season's Kansas State-Xavier game during the NCAA Tournament. You'll notice exactly when Gus hits his breaking point, just like any fan would.
No need for hyperbole or a long-winded call, just "Uhhhh ... AHHHHHHHH." It may not be elegant, but it described the moment perfectly using nothing but grunts.
And on Saturday, with Gus on the call, we saw another instant classic between Arizona and Washington. And what better ending for Washington fans than Isaiah Thomas hitting a step-back jumper for the win as Gus screams in celebration.
March has arrived and Gus is in prime form.