ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale and former Michigan State standout Magic Johnson will pair up with announcer Mike Tirico on ESPN’s telecast of No. 1 Indiana at No. 12 Michigan State on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. ET.
Even though he is a fan and follower of college basketball, the February 19 telecast will be the first time Johnson has worked a game as an on-air analyst. Vitale and Johnson, long-time friends, have never worked an event together. Johnson was recruited by Vitale, then-head coach of the University of Detroit men’s basketball team.
Vitale, college basketball’s top analyst and ambassador and a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, joined ESPN in 1979 – just after the network’s launch – following a college and pro coaching career. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate – but never boring – style.
Johnson, an NBA studio analyst on ABC and ESPN since 2010, was the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft after leading Michigan State to the college championship as a sophomore. A five-time NBA champion and three-time NBA MVP, Johnson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
“From the time I was a high school basketball player in Michigan I was captivated by Coach Vitale’s spirit and passion,” said Johnson. “I’ve been fortunate to have developed a wonderful relationship with him – one which is bonded by our common love of basketball. I have the utmost admiration and respect for Dickie V as a person, a basketball genius and a commentator and I can’t wait to call this game with him and Mike Tirico.”
Vitale commented, “I remember him as a kid so well. He was a basketball junkie, playing the game for hour after hour on the playgrounds. He became ‘Magic’ from his work ethic. I have always said if there was one player I wish I could’ve coached in my life it would be Earvin Magic Johnson. I am thrilled to be able to work with him and Mike Tirico. Although, I might have to remind him a few times that Indiana will be playing as well.”