Marv Albert once wrote a book with Rick Reilly called, “I’d Love To, But I Have a Game: 27 Years Without a Life.”
That was 1993.
Now, in 2021, Albert is without a game. At the end of last season, the legendary voice of the NBA retired after 55 years calling sports. And he has a life.
“I’m happy,” Albert told The Post.
As the NBA opened on Tuesday night, Albert was not courtside. Instead he was flipping between his old network, TNT, while keeping a close eye on the MLB playoffs.
“It reminds me of when I was a kid, though, we didn’t have as many sports available on TV,” said the now 80-year-old Albert, who grew up in Brooklyn. “I was flashing back and forth between the baseball and the basketball.”
Albert said he missed the preparation for the games and the butterflies just before tipoff, but he sounded content as the season began without him on a lead broadcast.
“I’m Mr. TV Binging,” Albert said. “I’m setting records. I could be a TV critic after this, no question. I think I’ve seen everything. Almost. I’m still enjoying ‘The Morning Show’ and ‘Hacks,’ ‘MI5,’ which has like 10 seasons, ‘Bosh,’ ‘Goliath,’ ‘Godfather of Harlem.’ I could go on and on.”
He is a voracious reader. He has finished all of Bob Woodward’s recent books, a collection of Peggy Noonan’s columns and David Axelrod’s book on his four decades in politics, among others.
Soon, he is going to teach some journalism classes at Earl Monroe’s new charter school. Albert sounded well.
When an initial phone connection was a little fuzzy, Albert had one of his classic lines after a callback.
“Your technical people have done a fine turnaround,” Albert said.
I joked I brought in producer/director Howie Singer, who Albert dubbed the “electronic wizard” on MSG broadcasts.
“You don’t want to bring Howie in,” Albert said. “He’s too keyed in on his Red Sox.”
“NBA Countdown” has a high floor
ESPN’s new “NBA Countdown” is a smash-up of its flagship daytime programming of “SportsCenter,” “Get Up” and “PTI.” In its debut before the Knicks-Celtics double-OT thriller Wednesday, Mike Greenberg, Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon and Jalen Rose had the backdrop of the Knicks warming up, giving it a slightly awkward, but a big game feel.
The first show centered around Smith, which is unsurprising. He’s ESPN’s center of attention. The show will probably go as far as viewers want more Smith.
The most fun highlight of the first episode was unintentional as Greenberg — hired because ESPN looks at him as the ultimate point guard — was unaware the show had not gone to commercial.
What is obvious on the new “Countdown” is that the floor for the program is high. They are all experienced media personalities: Greenberg, from radio and now “Get Up,” Smith, from “First Take” and beyond, Wilbon, from “PTI” and Rose, from his daily program, “Jalen & Jacoby” — plus he’s a newspaper man with a column in The Post and a podcast, “Renaissance Man.”
So the show will have a certain level. As for its ceiling, it is hard to see it being near TNT’s iconic “Inside the NBA,” ESPN’s perpetual studio nemesis. It is hard to make something new and special; especially when the same personalities are on-air daily.
Magic Johnson is scheduled to join on certain programs and perhaps, working with good buddies, Smith and Wilbon, we can see more from him than he has shown in his television past. Johnson is the biggest name of the group, but the most unproven on TV. He’s a wild card, but the rest of the show are known quantities, and that is not a bad thing.
Clicker book club
In “You are Looking Live! How The NFL Today Revolutionized Sports Broadcasting,” Rich Podolsky presents the story of how “The NFL Today,” in his view, changed the sports broadcasting world in the 1970s and became the standard for all similar shows that have followed. The book describes the team of Brent Musburger, Phyliss George, Irv Cross and Jimmy (The Greek) Snyder, and those who followed them. Papa Clicker, my dad Herb Marchand, who does all the reviews, gives it a very readable 4.2 out of 5 clickers.
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