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Marv Albert, Hall of Fame N.B.A. Sportscaster, Is Retiring


Marv Albert, whose rapid-fire coverage became an N.B.A. soundtrack for almost 60 years, will retire from sportscasting after the 2021 postseason, his employer, Turner Sports, announced on Monday.

Albert, who will turn 80 in June, called 25 N.B.A. All-Star Games, 13 N.B.A. finals, the 1992 gold medal men’s basketball victory for the United States and dozens of other major sporting events for several networks in a long career that earned him recognition in several halls of fame.

Though Albert called games in a variety of sports, including professional football, hockey and baseball, he is most recognized for his work in basketball. He started in 1967, doing Knicks play-by-play for radio. He transitioned to television in the mid-1970s, and called Knicks games for much of four decades. He became the primary N.B.A. voice for NBC Sports in 1990, where he worked from 1977 to 1997 and from 2000 to 2002. He has worked for Turner Sports for 22 years, 19 of them as an N.B.A. play-by-play announcer.

“There is no voice more closely associated with N.B.A. basketball than Marv Albert’s,” Adam Silver, the league’s commissioner, said in the announcement. “Marv has been the soundtrack for basketball fans for nearly 60 years,” he added.

Albert registered his first signature “Yes!” call in 1968, when Knicks guard Dick Barnett hit a jump shot during the playoffs.

On-air, he was “as warm as they come,” David Halberstam, a former play-by-play announcer for the Miami Heat who publishes the Sports Broadcast Journal, said in a phone interview. But off-air, Albert was on the quiet side. Born and raised in Brooklyn, his obsession with basketball started early. He worked as a ball boy for the Knicks as a teenager and then returned as a college senior and developed a close relationship with Marty Glickman, the famed broadcaster who called the team’s games for WCBS radio at the time. Sometimes, Glickman would hand Albert the microphone to announce statistics.

Albert called his first game on Jan. 27, 1963, filling in for Glickman as the Boston Celtics beat the Knicks. He was 21.

“He called the game with such a great flair and such great descriptiveness that he had learned from Glickman, and it was riveting and gripping,” Halberstam said of Albert’s early years. “You’d never want to turn that radio off.”

Albert’s coverage of the first five of Michael Jordan’s six N.B.A. championship titles solidified his household name. But his career was interrupted by a highly publicized trial in 1997 that exposed a series of lurid sexual encounters. Two women testified that Albert had attacked them, and Albert pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor account of assault and battery.

After pleading guilty, he resigned from the MSG Network, which broadcast the Knicks and the Rangers of the N.H.L., and was fired by NBC. He did not serve jail time but attended court-mandated therapy.

Less than a year later, though, he returned to broadcasting by covering Knicks games on the radio and as host of the nightly “MSG Sportsdesk.” In 1999, he rejoined NBC. Albert left NBC in 2002, after the network lost its N.B.A. coverage, and he was let go as the voice of the Knicks in 2004 after criticizing the team’s play on air.

“He made you love basketball more because of his style and because of his voice, his tone and his rhythm and his pace,” Mike Breen, who took over doing television play-by-play for the Knicks from Albert, said in a phone interview. “It was perfection.”

Albert was named to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2015, and was recognized by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997.

His final series will be the Eastern Conference finals; Philadelphia is the top seed in the East, and the Nets are No. 2. The No. 4-seeded Knicks will make their first postseason since 2013.

Albert said in a statement that his 55 years in broadcasting had “flown by.”

“Now, I’ll have the opportunity to hone my gardening skills and work on my ballroom dancing,” he said.

Richard Sandomir contributed reporting.

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