Marv Albert Rumors
J.R. Smith drew comparisons to Dennis Rodman this offseason — both from Knicks president Phil Jackson and Rodman himself. Now Smith may have met his version of Michael Jordan. “There are players like LeBron [James] who had great influence on players who have had, let’s say, murky pasts,” said TNT play-by-play man Marv Albert, who is calling the Eastern Conference finals. “Michael Jordan is the same way. When Rodman was brought to Chicago that worked out pretty well, despite some things going on off the court that were a little bit different. On the court he played as hard as anyone in the league. That’s the influence of Michael.
Do you miss television? Kerr: “I don’t miss Marv Albert at all. Let’s make that clear (laughs). You know, I loved it. I loved my job at TNT. As soon as they fire me I’ll probably be back there. But I think it was the right move at the right time for me. A TV gig allowed me to raise my kids and still be part of the game. Now that my kids are older and pretty much out of the house this is the perfect time for this move. I’m really happy.”
“Well, I told him it never ends well there. Just look at recent history. It’s because of one man (Dolan),” Albert told me Thursday over the telephone. “There is no happiness there. I say this with all kinds of friends I have there and (the ones) at the MSG Network. Everybody hates being there. For coaches it’s very difficult. Steve couldn’t accept anyone (from MSG’s PR staff) following him around with a tape recorder. Like Phil, Steve is a guy who wants to say what he wants to say,” Albert continued. “He’s very opinionated, which doesn’t always work when you are at the Garden.” During their conversations, Albert said Kerr asked questions, but it was clear he knew “what my whole situation at the Garden was.”
Numerous reports suggest Albert was the guy who talked Kerr out of taking the Knicks job. “That’s not true,” Albert said. “I didn’t know and I didn’t want to know what was going on. Everybody was calling me, texting me looking for information. Steve, on purpose, didn’t give us (the TNT crew) any details.” Albert also said Kerr “talked to a lot of people about what went on in the Garden.” And while the Dolan Affect was part of his decision, it was just one of a few factors we already outlined. “He was enamored by New York and Phil. It was more Phil than anything else,” Albert said. “I know Steve felt bad when he said goodbye to Phil after making his decision. Steve really did check it out very carefully. To me it (his decision) was a no-brainer.”
Albert, who began calling NBA action for the New York Knicks in 1967, was courtside at an NBA game that was resurrected in cyberspace Thursday — Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. At issue: Whether Chicago’s Michael Jordan was suffering from food poisoning, rather than the flu, while turning in a 37-point performance. Albert, who sat courtside to call that game, says he thinks “that’s very possible. It’s not astonishing it wouldn’t be the flu but simply another type of upset stomach. But it was one of the most incredible performances I’ve seen. He was sick.”
Three reasons why tonight’s Celtics-Nets game is an extremely big deal: 1. This is the first game Marv Albert — who was born in Brooklyn, as Marvin Aufrichtig, in 1941 — has ever called in his home borough. 2. That’s big on your basic, local-boy-makes-good level. 3. That’s big beyond that level, because hometowns aren’t simple things. Brooklyn, for example, is where young Marv taught himself play-by-play. But Brooklyn is also the accent he spent years trying to lose. It’s where his first surname, Aufrichtig, was taken away. Marv, in other words, is something more complex than Marty Markowitz. If we study the things Marv took from Brooklyn, and the things he had to leave behind, then we can see the formation of the man who will inevitably unleash a “Yes!” tonight.
For Marv, athletes are slowly being stripped of their mysticism. Marv didn’t become a suck-up, the announcer who gleans a few “scoops” for a lifetime as the athlete’s unofficial wingman. It’s more like he made players into his co-conspirators. “Kenny Sears’s stale jokes put the other players to sleep,” Marv wrote in the Lincoln Log in 1957. Now, fast-forward three decades. Remember when Michael Jordan hit six first-half 3-pointers in the ’92 Finals and gave that I-can’t-believe-it-either shrug? It’s often forgotten that the guy he was shrugging at — his co-conspirator, you might say — was the NBC announcer whom he liked so much that he’d feel hurt if he didn’t get asked for an interview. The guy MJ was shrugging at was Marv.