When Fox sports and MSG broadcaster Kenny Albert turned 33 earlier
this year, he received a message from his father on his answering
machine. "I can't believe you're getting older," Marv said in his
familiar deadpan rasp, "because some of us are getting younger."
The message wasn't particularly out of character--after all, the
59-year-old Marv likes to introduce Kenny as "my brother"--but
in this instance it was also quite fitting, at least in the
figurative sense. Less than four years after the low point of
his personal life and professional career, Marv Albert has
successfully turned back the clock and is now just as happy, if
not happier, and just as busy, if not busier, than he was before
NBC fired him in September 1997 after he pleaded guilty to a
misdemeanor assault charge for biting a lover.
That his comeback has been so complete--he has returned to full
duties at Turner, MSG and NBC--is a testament not only to his
skill as an announcer but also to the respect he has earned in
more than 35 years in the industry. For what other broadcaster
would Bob Costas voluntarily step aside, as he graciously did for
Albert when the latter returned as play-by-play man on NBC's NBA
telecasts this season? "All along I think Bob felt he was just
holding the job for Marv," says Doug Collins, who teamed with
Costas for 2 1/2 seasons and is now Albert's on-air partner.
Though his reputation may never fully recover from the 1997
incident (witness rapper Common, who boasted last year in a lyric
that he's "freaky like Marv Albert"), Albert says he has gained
perspective from the experience. "Not that I didn't appreciate
what I had in the past," he says, "but I definitely appreciate
things more." For him that means spending more time with Heather
Faulkiner, the freelance ESPN producer who stood by him during
the episode and whom he married three years ago. It also means
embracing the role of grandfather, as he has with his first
grandchild, Kenny's 18-month-old daughter, Amanda.
Not that Marv, a renowned workaholic, is easing up. In the past
year he added Olympic boxing and Wimbledon to his resume, and he
will cover this year's Goodwill Games in Australia. But he says
he won't feel he's truly come full circle until this June. "I
think it'll really hit me when I walk out on the court to do the
NBA Finals," says Albert. "To me, there is no greater
until he does the NBA Finals for NBC in June.