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SPORTS EXTRA / NBA 2000-01 PREVIEW | TV-RADIO

It's a Full-Circle Journey for Albert

October 30, 2000|LARRY STEWART

The Lakers have a new play-by-play announcer but, no, you didn't miss it. Chick Hearn hasn't retired.

Hearn and Stu Lantz will still be announcing all the games on Fox Sports Net, Channel 9 and KLAC radio.

The new guy will be working Laker games on NBC and TNT or TBS.

His name is Marv Albert. Yessss! That Marv Albert.

He's back, all the way back.

Bob Costas voluntarily stepped aside so Albert could resume his role as NBC's No. 1 NBA play-by-play announcer this season. Albert will work with Doug Collins.

And since the defending NBA champion Lakers figure to again be NBC's marquee team, Albert and Collins will be assigned to them, as were Costas and Collins last season.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday November 30, 2000 Home Edition Sports Part D Page 8 Sports Desk 1 inches; 14 words Type of Material: Correction
TV-Radio--Edie's Diner in Marina del Rey was misidentified in a story in the NBA Preview Oct. 30.

"I'm looking forward to those trips to Los Angeles and the meals at Jerry's Deli and Edy's," Albert said, referring to restaurants in Marina Del Rey.

The Lakers will make 11 regular-season appearances on NBC, the maximum allowed. The Orlando Magic is second to the Lakers in NBC appearances during the regular season with 10.

NBC opens its NBA coverage with a doubleheader Christmas Day. Orlando is at Indiana in the first game, followed by Portland against the Lakers at 2:30 at Staples Center.

The Lakers will make 15 regular-season appearances on TNT and TBS, also the maximum allowed and more than any other team. The New York Knicks are second with 14.

The Lakers' season opener Tuesday at Portland will be on TBS, as well as Channel 9. Viewers here will have a choice--Hearn and Lantz on Channel 9 or Albert and his TNT/TBS partner, Mike Fratello, plus Cheryl Miller on the sidelines.

Of the 30 games the team of Albert, Fratello and Miller will work for Turner Broadcasting, many will be Laker games.

Turner has a different schedule this season. There used to be a TBS game on Mondays, and TNT games on Thursdays and Fridays. This season, the TBS games will be on Tuesdays, the TNT games on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Albert and Fratello will be working mostly Thursday TNT telecasts.

Albert will also work about 50 Knick cable telecasts for the Madison Square Garden network. He did Knick radio broadcasts last season.

He recently returned from Sydney, Australia, where he did Olympic boxing for NBC.

Just like old times. Albert is one of the busiest announcers in sports television.

"Life is wonderful," Albert said.

It certainly wasn't wonderful in 1997, when his career appeared over.

You may recall that NBC fired him in September 1997, after he'd pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge.

It wasn't the misdemeanor that got him fired, though. He had told his NBC bosses that he was not guilty of the charges leveled by Vanessa Perchach, a Virginia woman who accused Albert of biting her on the back. Then three days into a trial filled with lurid allegations about his sex life, Albert pleaded guilty. That's when he was fired, and immediately became the target of jokes on late-night television.

How embarrassing was it?

"I wouldn't want to find out what could possibly be worse," Albert said.

Albert went into therapy, which, he said, he has been finished with for awhile.

His comeback has been brisk, too brisk for some who believe he got off too lightly.

"To me, it wasn't so quick," he said.

In July 1998, MSG hired him back to host its nightly "MSG Sports Desk."

In February 1999, Turner signed Albert as an NBA play-by-play announcer.

Four months later, NBC gave Albert a three-year deal to serve as a second-string NBA announcer.

In December, NBC announced Costas would finish out the season, then let Albert take his spot.

And two years ago, Albert and Heather Faulkner, a free-lance sports producer who works mostly for ESPN, were married. They live in Manhattan.

Now Albert can look forward to a full NBA season, including the finals.

"I think what it means to again be working the finals will hit me more when we get there," he said.

One thing it means is that Albert is getting closer to a network play-by-play record of sorts. This season's finals will be the eighth Albert has worked for NBC, having previously done them from 1991 through '97.

Dick Stockton is the leader, having worked nine for CBS from 1982-90.

Albert said the dark days and embarrassment taught him something about human kindness.

"The support I got was great," he said.

Some of that came from his four children, among them son Kenny, an announcer for Fox. And some came from his friend, Costas.

"Bob and I have always been friends," Albert said. "I'm well aware of what he did for me."

At least a year before Albert took Costas' spot, Costas went to Dick Ebersol, NBC Sports chairman, and said he'd have no problem stepping aside whenever the time came that Albert could resume his old role.

Albert is appreciative of that. He's appreciative of a lot of things.

"When you go through something like I went through, you're more appreciative of life in general and everything," he said. "I think I was always appreciative of what I had, but more so now."

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