Yes! and it counts! That was the plan for Marv Albert, scheduled to be at the mic as the Nets made their official start in Brooklyn last weekend. Fittingly, Albert was to handle the play-by-play opening night against the Knicks for TNT. But Hurricane Sandy canceled that great storyline for the NBA’s preemient voice. Despite the change of plans, Albert, a Brooklyn boy, is part of FishbowlNY’s special series commemorating Brooklyn’s resumption of professional sports.
His homecoming will have to wait as Albert is expected to broadcast from the Barclays Center for TNT two times later this season.
Unless you’ve been under a rock since the 1960s, you know Albert’s amazing resume and, of course, his ties to New York. He called Knicks games, either or radio or TV, for almost 40 years. In 2005, Nets began his association with the Nets as lead play-by-play announcer on the YES Network. Albert has always maintained his legendary break neck pace, but wasn’t able to keep the Nets games on his full plate after last season.
“CBS came to me with the NFL. It was at the time right after Turner and CBS had put together the college basketball deal where I ended up doing Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games on CBS,” Albert admits. “It was something I just felt I couldn’t pass up. I knew I would end up doing major games in Brooklyn for Turner. It would have been just too much. I could have stayed and done a partial schedule, and that was the thought, but it would have been just too many games.”
Now, though, Albert is able to wax nostalgic about his childhood.
“It was a great place to grow up. Brooklyn is so well known for all the street games, stickball and stoopball,” Albert reflects. “We played roller hockey usually in the street [with] the actual goal net where cars would come. We’d always use one person as a lookout.”
Albert spent his youth in Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach, while the future sportscasting icon went to Lincoln High School.
“There was always something going on,” Albert remembers. “You’d be outside playing with friends… we’d live in the schoolyard playing basketball on the weekends all day.”
But Albert’s family had other ideas for their son’s hands.
“My parents made my brothers and me take piano lessons to culturalize us,” Albert says. “But instead of practicing we’d rather be outside playing ball. I felt that playing piano helped my dexterity in typing.”
The man who had a major hand in many Knicks memories at Madison Square Garden says a connection to the past remains strong in Manhattan Beach.
“There are still a lot of similiarities, [but] not quite the same as it was,” Albert says.
However, he points to one distinct difference between growing up in 1950s Brooklyn and the borough’s 21st century version.
“My parents had no problem letting me take the BMT subway from Brighton Beach to Prospect Park to go to a Dodgers’ game at Ebbets Field, or to go to a Knick game at the Garden,” Albert recalls. “I was a ball boy for the Knicks when I was in high school, so I would take my homework on the subway. I don’t think that would be the case today.”
As the saying goes, “You can’t go home again.” Albert, though, is doing the next best thing.
“It was just a wonderful place to grow up, in terms of the community, you’d know everybody in those areas.”
Photo credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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