Albert, now 71, answered the question, and I didn’t think much about it.
However, the following day, I received word that Albert wanted to talk to me. A few minutes later, he was on the line.
“I didn’t feel like I gave you a very good answer to your question,” Albert said. “Your question caught off guard. I really haven’t been asked about it.”
Indeed, turning 70 isn’t news in this business anymore. It is just a speed bump for broadcasters and analysts these days. The landscape is jammed with guys who have blitzed past the notion of retirement age. Brent Musburger is 73; Verne Lundquist is 72. And heck, they’re just kids compared to Vin Scully, who turns 85 this month.
“The most important thing is that 70 is the new 68,” Albert joked.
Last week, he kicked off another NBA season on TNT, continuing a run that began in 1967 when at age 26 he became the voice of the Knicks.
With a bit more time to think about my question, here’s what Albert had to say:
“I feel I’m better now than I ever have been. You learn so much as you’re doing it. I’m watching tapes and I’ll see things that get me annoyed and where I know I can improve. I understand better letting the crowd play more. I’ve always said it was important for me who I was working with, because I like to kid around a lot. But I’ve also learned to use my partner better.
“I love what I’m doing. As long as I can stay at the same standard, there’s no reason to stop. It feels pretty good.”
Albert says he has cut back a bit in recent years, but it’s still a busy schedule. He calls an NFL game for CBS on Sundays; he was at Baltimore-Cincinnati Sunday. He has his basketball duties for TNT, and he picks up the NCAA basketball tournament for CBS and TNT in March, which has emerged as a favorite assignment.
The key for Albert?
“I still enjoy the preparation,” Albert said. “I look forward to getting ready to call a game.”
The real workhorse in the Albert family now is his son, Kenny. He does baseball and the NFL for Fox Sports; the Rangers games for MSG, along with other assignments.
“I ask my son, Kenny, ‘Why are you doing all this?'” Albert said. “And then I say, I did the same thing. You want to do everything.”
The new NBA season brings Albert back to his roots with the Nets moving to Brooklyn. He grew up in Brooklyn watching the Dodgers. He wrote a first-person piece in the New York Times last week.
In our interview, he talked about Brooklyn, the Nets and the impact on basketball in New York.
“It goes back to the Dodgers. It’s a very unique place. It’s very New York. I remember playing stick ball. The neighborhoods are unique. Coney Island. Brighton Beach, where I come from, playing roller hockey in the streets, taking the subway to go to Ebbetts Field.
“I don’t know if a large number of Knick fans will change to Net fans. I think the Nets will be a smash hit with the new arena. But you have to win. If they aren’t a winning team right away, that’ll be tough. They know that, which is the reason why they made the moves they did.”
Coming Friday: Albert in the latest edition of My First Job. Recreating minor league baseball games and sharing stage with Chubby Checker.