Marv Albert Q&A, Part II
April 7, 2009
by Ben Couch - NJNETS.COM
East Rutherford, N.J. ó If you've spent any time watching the NBA during the last 20 years, you know the call. Say it with me now:
"YES!!! And it counts!"
It is legendary broadcaster Marv Albert's trademark, and he has been delivering it on the YES Network as the Nets' play-by-play announcer for more than four years. Albert, who worked for NBC Sports for more than 20 years, has covered 12 NBA Finals, seven Super Bowls and six NHL Stanley Cup Finals along with boxing, college basketball and the NHL All-Star Game. During the course of his career, Albert has earned five national sports Emmy Awards and four New York Emmy Awards, six CableACE Awards, and the 1997 Curt Gowdy Media Award, one of the highest honors given to sports journalists.
Albert recently took time out of his busy schedule to discuss the Nets' season, as well as his career in broadcasting. If you missed Part I, click here to check it out!
NJNets.com: What's your gameday routine?
Marv Albert: I find that it is an advantage to broadcast as many games as I do, with the combination of TNT and the Nets. I always felt thatís important, to be exposed to as much basketball and be fortunate enough to talk to players and coaches all the time, so youíre always picking things up.
In effect, Iím watching basketball all the time, and I put together charts on each team, which contains updated information, stories and anecdotes. It takes me, for each game, perhaps two to three hours, even if itís a repeat team that Iím doing. For instance, last week for TNT, we did a Tuesday and Thursday game in Chicago, and thatís an advantage to have the Bulls two times in a row. Even with the Nets playing Cleveland, I had worked the Cavaliers the previous Thursday night playing Portland on TNT Ö and Iíve done so many Cleveland games because theyíre on so much nationally; thatís an advantage to have just talked to the Cavalier coaches and players the other day. That really helps the preparation.
Obviously, Iím around the Nets all the time and Lawrence Frank is terrific in sharing information prior to the games to give us his thoughts, what the matchups are going to be, how he plans to play the opposition teams. But itís basically reviewing my charts, making notes. I try to read two weeks back, in terms of the newspaper coverage of the opposition team. That, I think, is vital. Online, we get the news clips from the public relations department. Youíre basically immersed with it all the time.
NJNets.com: What are the differences in calling national games versus local ones?
Marv: Well I think with the Nets, Iíve been on so frequently and for such a long time in the New York-New Jersey area, itís a bit looser approach. The Czar, Mike Fratello, can be a walking punchline, and we basically have the same relationship on and off the court. It does carry to the TNT telecasts, but itís a little different -- we can be lighter, I feel, with the broadcasts on YES.
And there might be stories I would tell on a national broadcast in my days at NBC or on TNT which I might not tell on a local game because I assume that people are more knowledgeable about the home team, the Nets. And if I do a Net game nationally, there would be some stories I would tell about players or situations that I probably would not tell locally. On a national telecast, I donít take it for granted that viewers know certain things that they would know if they followed the team on an everyday basis.
And maybe the attempted humor locally is different. We do have our lighter moments on a national level, but itís more under control.
NJNets.com: What about calling games on the radio?
Marv: Itís completely different. As much as I enjoy TV, Iíve always loved radio. And I love doing the NFL games, the Monday night games, on radio. Because you are the game. I really enjoyed calling basketball and hockey on the radio, but the presentation is more specific Ė youíre talking all the time. Itís all about describing every phase of the play. TV is more succinct, more of setting up the color commentator that youíre working with.
Youíre a traffic cop sometimes, because there are so many elements flying by: going to a commercial break, dealing with graphics, with roll-ins of footage. With radio, you are the eyes of the listener. Looking back at the announcers Iíve always respected, they usually started out with radio before TV. Itís such a wonderful testing ground, and I grew up where radio was more significant, because there werenít as many games on television. I used to listen, particularly to Marty Glickman and Les Keiter, the people who did the Knicks at the time. In baseball, Vin Scully and Red Barber. I still love listening to sports on the radio. TV is different, because itís almost like youíre putting captions on the video.
NJNets.com: What sport beside basketball do you most enjoy?
Marv: Iíve been fortunate to do so many, but aside from basketball, the NFL is one of my favorites and I also enjoyed calling Rangers hockey. Hockey is a test of stamina and voice. You have to go easy on your throat because itís a great deal of talking. Whenever I talk to my son Kenny, who does the Rangers now, I ask, ĎHowís your throat?í Because youíre rising constantly, and there might not be a goal scored, but at any instant it can happen. Youíre really using your throat in a way where you have to be careful, because you can put yourself out of action for a while. I was also fortunate to broadcast boxing at NBC, which consisted of many championship fights and Olympic competition, which led to many controversial telecasts -- which Iíve always found challenging.
NJNets.com: Any home remedies for keeping your throat in game shape?
Marv: I would never scream at my kids, never raise my voice. But as they often tell me, they were so well-behaved that screaming was not necessary. And I still have to be very careful of that. Iíve always felt that I shouldnít scream on the air either. I just feel thereís a way of rising enthusiastically if thereís an exciting play, but you donít have to scream. There are people who do shout, and I think thatís unnecessary. You have to be under control at all times, no matter whatís taking place. Enthusiasm and excitement can be expressed without going beserk.
NJNets.com: What are some of your favorite calls?
Marv: Well itís about favorite events which have led to favorite calls. When I think back to my early days, with the Knicks winning two championships, there were a number of memorable moments Ö Willis Reed, walking on to the court when no one expected him to play against the Lakers in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Championship, due to his injured leg Ö And I also had the great fortune to do so many of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bullsí compelling games during their championship runs.
To me, doing the Olympics in 1992 in Barcelona for NBC, just seeing the Dream Team take the floor was a thrill for me. I donít think there was another team in any sport with that high level of athletes playing together. The heavyweight title fights Ö thereís so many itís hard to say. It helps to be in the right spots to be able to be fortunate enough to do certain games. Thatís the key more than anything else. And I always feel you donít want to go over the top. Sometimes understating is better than going nuts.
NJNets.com: As a Brooklyn native, what will be the impact of the Netsí move to the boroughs?
Marv: Itíll be huge. Itís a home run. Iíve been to the area, Iíve seen what the projections are Ö what it will look like. Hopefully all the issues will be worked out in short time. As someone who grew up in Brooklyn, I still have wonderful memories of the Brooklyn Dodgers and going to games their last couple of season, when they were in Brooklyn. I think the Brooklyn Nets will be a huge success.
Revisit Part I of our Interview with Marv, in which he discusses his career in broadcasting.