Decades into an announcing career in which he's covered every sport imaginable, the most recognizable voice in the business says the fire still burns in his 72-year-old soul. Marv looked vibrant and youthful when The Shadow League recently caught up with him at Essex House Hotel's NCAA Media event near Manhattan's Central Park.
“Oh yeah I get excited around this time of year, " Albert said. "I really enjoy broadcasting and watching the college too. Between NBC, CBS and TNT I’ve been covering college basketball for a long time. The passion is very much there no question.”
The NBA’s transformation over the past 25 years:
“The skill level without a doubt has improved. There may be a lot of guys from 25 years ago that could adapt their game to play today but what guys can do now athletically is just incredible. Now I think the fundamentals may not be as sound as they were in the past because we have this one-and-done thing in college and some of the young prodigies are coming out a bit too early."
"I think there are some players like LeBron who are so gifted for example. But how many players are like him? He’s going to be one of the all-time greats. You see guys like John Wall just now turning the corner and it took him a couple of years to be an All-Star. Kyrie Irving has shown flashes of brilliance and still is in the development stage, but he’s an All-Star now. There are other players who came out who were second round picks or very low first round picks, who just weren’t ready. They came out too early. The 20-year age minimum would help because there really are guys coming out that shouldn’t be."
"It would definitely help college basketball because college is like a farm system for the NBA. They don’t want to think of themselves that way but I think the new NBA commissioner Adam Silver is trying to make a change in that direction. And when you see guys like John Calipari catch lightening in a bottle like he did a couple of years ago with Anthony Davis and a bunch of young guys with NBA talent that went all the way...that’s very hard to do. You want to see fans get to know the players in college so that when they come into the NBA you have a feel for who they are. With one-and-done, unless you’re Jabari Parker or (Andrew) Wiggins, it’s hard for that to happen.”
“I think the NBA is in such good shape right now and it will really heat up when the playoffs start, but still the battle down the wire now makes it intriguing. Miami certainly has a shot. If it comes down to a seventh game I think Miami would have a better shot winning at Indianapolis than Indiana would have winning at Miami so homecourt is important. Indiana’s gone through a little lull but you expect that. Nobody really goes sweeping through an NBA season without any adversity."
Most memorable NCAA Tournament players:
Magic Johnson. I think of the Magic –Bird confrontation in 79’ with Magic and Michigan State going up against Bird and Indiana State. The kid now for me is McDermott from Creighton, he’s great. See I like shooters, but this list is hard. I saw Jordan at North Carolina and everybody knew he’d be a good pro, but I don’t think anybody thought he’d explode to what he became. I remember Dukes-North Carolina games early in my career and it was “Mike Jordan” not Michael Jordan, and Dean Smith would distribute the ball to so many good players that he really didn’t score that much. But he did make one of the most unforgettable shots in tournament history.
Memorable NCAA Coaches:
“It’s hard because if you recruited the players and coach at the big schools you tend to win. I’ve always admired Coach K and Dean Smith. Going back I liked Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. There are just so many guys. You know who I respect too? Shaka Smart from Virginia Commonwealth. I think he’s very smart, He’s done a terrific job and we’ve done several of his games over the years. “
Big East Teams defecting to ACC:
“The Big East used to be such a stronger conference but now it’s kind of hard to even follow what’s going on with the realignments. You have Syracuse now in the ACC and even they have expressed questions about it. The rivalries that were established are now gone and will never be the same, but new rivalries will be created. It doesn’t really hurt college basketball. You’re talking about adding huge name together into a conference and that can’t hurt. The Big East used to be superior, unbelievable basketball, but there are still some very good teams and legendary programs in the Big East."
“It’s going to go down to the wire with Durant and LeBron. I thought Durant was well in front when Westbrook was out, but then LeBron came on and now it’s almost dead even.”
“I would think in your lifetime the Knicks will be champions again, it’s just hard for them to get up from where they were.”