Marv Albert was not interviewed for “The Last Dance,” ESPN’s 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls. But he has been watching and enjoying the show, along with millions of other hoops-starved fans.
“It’s so well done,” he said.
For the rest of us, the series has been a reminder of a traditional sound of spring — Albert’s basketball play-by-play voice.
It is all over “The Last Dance,” a soundtrack to highlights of numerous Bulls games from the 1990s. But that is not the only place Albert has heard himself lately.
In addition to catching up on reading and binge-watching television series in his Tribeca apartment during the NBA’s COVID-19 shutdown, he has been watching classic games on NBA TV and MSG Networks.
“It’s too bad they don’t pay residuals on all those Knicks and Bulls games they’ve been playing,” he said jokingly.
Mostly, Albert has been missing the playoffs, which under normal circumstances he would be calling for Turner Sports through the Western Conference finals.
Does he think he will get to call that series at some point this season?
“It’s impossible to say,” he said. “I know they’re just standing by waiting to see and we’re going to have the new, new normal. If anything does take place, there’s no way they can have fans. Even with the players, if one person tests positive, they have to close it down. I think that’s part of the fear.
“And I’ve heard other aspects of it. The way it would be done on television, we probably would be doing it off a monitor. But that’s the least of it.”
Albert was eating dinner in Los Angeles on March 11, preparing to call a Rockets-Lakers game for TNT the next night, when he got a call from his producer that the NBA had suspended its season.
“Then the calls really came in, that Rudy Gobert had tested positive and we should all come home,” he said. “So I just ate dinner, went to sleep at the hotel and went back [to New York].
“It’s disappointing, but I can certainly understand it with what’s going on. I think Adam Silver has handled it [well]. He was the first one. He called it immediately. He was so ahead of the situation and that led to the leagues eventually all doing the same thing.”
Albert since has watched helplessly as what would have been the NBA calendar has evaporated.
At 78, he knows he has more basketball seasons in his past than in his future, which makes the notion of losing this one even more difficult to take. “It’s true,” he said. “That is a point. I thought about that one time. It’s inevitable.”
He has one season left on his contract. Has he considered whether he will sign a new one after 2020-21?
"I’ve thought about it, but I don’t know,” he said. “Now with this [situation] putting a little twist to everything, I think it will be new thoughts once we come back. I’ll have to see how I feel about it.
“I’m healthy. I feel great. I don’t think much has changed over the years, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Would he be willing to re-sign and stay active if he no longer is Turner’s No. 1 play-by-play man?
“I haven’t thought about that yet,” he said. “Nothing really has been determined about that. We’ll see. I’ll just wait and see. There’s too much going on.”
In the meantime, he is in the same boat as the rest of the NBA world — and beyond.
“I miss it,” he said. “But it’s just sad what’s going on. It’s all very sad.”