Saturday, July 16, 2011

On This Day, July 16th: NBA Lockout Day 16 & Marv Albert Returns


Time heals a lot of things, including Marv Albert's prestige as an NBA sportscaster. It's amazing how the guy came back from the dead of sports broadcasting and is still going strong today.

Ten months after pleading guilty to assault in a highly publicized sex case that ended his career as a top-line sports broadcaster, Marv Albert got a measure of redemption Wednesday.

Madison Square Garden Network announced in a dimly lit theater lobby at the Garden that Albert, beginning Sept. 14, will anchor MSG Sports Desk, New York's 30-minute sports TV news show that airs nightly at 10:30 and after live events.

Albert also will do radio play-by-play for Knicks home games.

Wednesday marked Albert's first public apology for the assault. Before the guilty plea, Albert had denied any sexual misconduct.

``What I did was wrong,'' Albert said. ``I hurt my family, my friends, my employers. And for that, I'm sorry.''

He had resigned from MSG in September and been fired by NBC after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge. He was accused of throwing his former girl- friend, Vanessa Perhach, onto a bed in a Virginia hotel room in February 1997, biting her on the back more than a dozen times and forcing her to perform oral sex.

Albert spent three decades broadcasting New York Knicks and Rangers games and was the lead NBA announcer for NBC. After his plea, though, his trademark ``Yeessss!'' became a punch line for talk-show hosts.

Now he's thankful for another chance at television. He said he wasn't sure he would get one.

``I thought it was damaged. Major. No question,'' Albert said of his career.
With lurid details of Albert's alleged sexual practices, including wearing women's lingerie, made public last year, could there still be a question of credibility?

``I don't know how people feel about these things, but I'm not worried about alienating an audience,'' said Dave Checketts, Madison Square Garden president and chief executive officer.

``I can't judge how much a person should pay. I know I've made a lot of mistakes. This is the time to bring Marv Albert back to MSG.

``How long do we have to hold someone up and punish them? It's not our right. If he's ready to come back, we're bringing him back.''

Checketts said the move was a matter of loyalty and of business. Checketts said the decision came after consultation with shareholders, corporate sponsors and Albert's therapist.

``He is a member of our family,'' Checketts said. ``This is a reward for Albert's loyalty to us for more than 30 years.

``Loyalty means a lot to us, but we also feel that Marv is one of the best broadcasters in the business. This was a business decision.''

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