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Gus Johnson misses Knicks

Gus Johnson said Tuesday it has been difficult being away from Madison Square Garden and MSG Network for the first time in 16 years – and not just because the Knicks at last are back to relevance.

“That’s my team,’’ said Johnson, who left the network (and Knicks radio) before the 2010-11 season after being unable to come to contract terms.

“Every door that has ever been opened up for me is because of them. They brought me to New York and gave me an opportunity to work in the greatest city in the world with the greatest building in the world with one of the greatest franchises in basketball history.

“So it’s been a transition, but this is life. The one thing that’s guaranteed is change and I’m still a big fan.’’

Johnson, 43, still lives in Manhattan, but he has not been to the Garden this season. He said he intends to visit soon, though, and take his son to a Knicks game.

In the meantime, he is preparing for the role for which he is best known: Calling NCAA Tournament games for CBS, including as one of the four play-by-play men for the regional finals.

“It’s that time of year,’’ he said, although he insisted that contrary to what many viewers believe, he does not have the power to create upsets or buzzer-beaters in the games he works.

Johnson expanded his work for the Big Ten Network this season and is the voice of the Madden NFL ’11 video game. He looked noticeably slimmer than usual Tuesday at a breakfast to preview the NCAAs. He said he has lost about 20 pounds.

“I am not on that Knicks team plane eating that food anymore,’’ he said, “so my stomach ain’t as big as it used to be.’’

New York Sports