Sportscaster Marv Albert demonstrates the tenacity, drive, and luck of a double boomeranger — a television celebrity who left NBC and the Madison Square Garden network under questionable circumstances only to return within a two-year period.
Unlike other celebrity boomerangers, the veteran sportscaster was not planning to retire or pursue “other interests” when he walked out the door two years ago. In fact, his departures were the direct result of a messy sex scandal in which a former lover alleged that Albert had bitten her on her back and forced her to perform oral sex during a tryst in a Virginia hotel room. Four days into his trial, Albert pled guilty to misdemeanor assault charges as part of a plea bargain that got him a year of probation and mandatory counseling. Albert plea-bargained to save himself from a prison sentence of five years to life — a legal move that cost him career ? if only temporarily. In a single afternoon, Albert received his walking papers from NBC and resigned from MSG.
Hours after Albert pled guilty, he was fired by NBC, thus terminating a 20-years relationship during which Albert had served as the network’s primary play-by-play man for NBA games. At MSG, Albert had done play-by-play for the New York Knicks. His resignation from the network ended a 30-year association with the NBA powerhouse.
But Albert’s brush with unemployment was short-lived. In July 1998 he re-enlisted with MSG, signing on to host “MSG Sports Desk,” a nightly, half-hour program that put Albert back on New York City television just a year after his resignation. Reunited once again with the Knicks, Albert began doing radio play-by-play for half of the team’s games. Meanwhile, the once-ostracized Albert orchestrated another career comeback by signing a multiyear contract with Turner Sports that allows him to announce NBA games and other sporting events for the TNT network.
Without a doubt, the most hefty boomerang of his career came last month when Albert shocked the sports world and announced he would return to NBC — the network that fired him only 21 months earlier. NBC had never ruled out the possibility of rehiring Albert, and when they did ask him to return, it was reportedly amid fears that he was itching to sign a deal with Fox Television.
In some ways the return to NBC doesn’t represent a 100 percent boomerang for Albert, who will simply compliment the station’s existing sportscasters rather than reclaim his spot as top announcer. His multiyear contract specifies that he will work just 15 regular season NBA games and the first four weekends of the playoffs, plus telecasts during the 2000 and 2002 Olympic games.
Nonetheless, Albert has returned home. His comments on the reunion? “Yesss!”
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