Brooklyn-Born Albert Ready to Call Game One
TNT announcer Marv Albert grew up playing stickball and stoopball and roller hockey on the streets of Brooklyn's Brighton and Manhattan Beach neighborhoods, calling "Car!" when they needed to clear the pavement. But weekends were for schoolyard basketball, all day every day.
And on November 1, the Brooklyn-born Albert – who used to complete his homework on the subway while riding to visit Ebbets Field for Dodgers games – will call the borough's first home game since 1957. The Nets will host the New York Knicks, for whom Albert once worked as a ballboy and (later) an announcer, in a nationally televised game on TNT (7 p.m. ET).
"It has a lot of meaning to me as someone that grew up in Brooklyn, and then broadcast the Knicks for 37 years and the Nets for 5 years," said Albert, in a Monday conference call. "Just to see the reaction and how it's been received, I just think it's going to be a smash hit all around -- not only the basketball."
Immersed in the New York market for a lifetime, Albert envisions the Nets drawing equal media attention to the Knicks, similar to the MLB split between the Mets and Yankees, and the NFL's Giants and Jets. He has already noticed a significant increase in feature stories and columns about the Nets, especially in light of the arena opening.
Albert believes Downtown Brooklyn has developed into a neighborhood with sought-after living space, drawing comparisons to Manhattan's SoHo and Greenwich Village, and that Barclays Center should help further its transformation into a destination area. But Brooklyn's scrappy, rough-and-tumble character has never dissipated, and while Albert doesn't necessarily think the team needs to match that personality, he can see how it might impact the fan-player relationships.
"A guy like Reggie Evans will be very well liked, because he's been well-traveled but he's a guy who's always diving for loose balls," Albert said. "He's a guy who's not interested in taking shots, which makes him very popular with his other teammates because all he wants to do is rebound and be scrappy. That's the type of player I think will be appreciated. And you want a team that moves the ball and that hustles and just can demonstrate how much they care about what they're doing."
Praising Nets general manager Billy King for his job revamping the roster, Albert said he believes the Nets will be a playoff team, one limited only by the length of time it takes the players to prove they complement each as other as well on the court as they do on paper.
Albert is interested to see how it all plays out, enticed by the addition of an NBA venue he expects to welcome capacity crowds. And he believes he's not the only one, that interest around the league and the fanbase is high.
"It's amazing what that does for a team, when people are wearing T-shirts and hats all over the place," Albert said. "That's all I see. Even in Manhattan I see that. It's really big league. I think there will be a lot of interest. It almost seems like the old Nets vaporized, are gone. And here come the Brooklyn Nets."