Marv Albert will call Game 2 of the Clippers-Thunder series at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday on TNT with analyst Steve Kerr and reporter David Aldridge. Albert, a longtime NBA announcer, discussed the series and the league in a phone interview Tuesday.
Were your surprised by the Game 1 blowout?
I said to Steve on the air and it’s funny how one team can look so bad and one team can look so good and how it can turn around. I’ve seen it so many times. It was actually surprising after talking to (Clippers coach) Doc Rivers, who said they were dead (Sunday) and they would come out and have that kind of game. It’s unheard of.
Are you expecting that Game 2 to be a little closer?
From a television point of view, we hope so. The Thunder could come out and do the same with Durant and Westbrook. Even though they have 25 and 29, it was kind of a quiet 25 and 29. They got nothing from the bench. It would be surprising if they don’t come out with incredible energy like they did against Memphis in Games 6 and 7.
What’s your impression of the job Doc Rivers has done in getting the Clippers through such a chaotic period?
Tremendous. I know a lot of people have said this. You could not find a better person in terms of being able to handle a difficult situation and keep everything stable within reason. The players love and respect him. In talking with him yesterday, he took all upon himself. He didn’t want his players constantly talking about this. As it was, they were angry and distracted, very emotional.
You mentioned on the Game 1 telecast about the Clippers possibly being America’s team. Do you think Americans are rallying for this team?
They are getting so much coverage. You turn on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC. I’m a news junkie so I watch all these stations. That’s all you see. Well the Malaysian crisis has now moved aside, so is the one in South Korea. This is part of at least a once an hour look in at the team and what has been revolving around it. There’s an empathy for them. They have been a very good team, and they have stars to like. Everywhere except possibly Oklahoma City and certainly the Bay Area, although they were well received there.
Are you surprised Kevin Durant won the MVP in such a landslide?
No. There’s no question. He had a spectacular season. As great as LeBron was. It wasn’t close. There were other candidates. Blake Griffin would be one and LeBron. To me, this is one of the most clear-cut decisions.
As a former longtime radio voice of the Knicks have you given Steve Kerr any advice about taking the Knicks coaching job?
Well, I personally have been sending his resumes out to every NBA team and D-league team, also. We’ve had enough. (Albert laughs.) What has been written has been accurate. He’s thinking it all over. That’s a tough place. But he’s a guy who is so good at communicating and dealing with people, with media. And of course, Phil is there who is also so good with dealing with media and people. It’s a great combination, but it’s a franchise that really has a long way to go. ... Steve needs time. He’s trying to think it through. On a serious note, we hate to lose him. He is just tremendous and just a wonderful guy.
Many viewers miss Craig Sager, who is battling leukemia. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich even had a shout out to him. Have you had a chance to talk to him?
I visited him. I live in New York. I stopped off in Atlanta to spend some time with him. He’s tough and he’s been in great spirits. As he says, he is so happy that he has all these playoff games to watch, even when he’s getting treatments he’s watching the games. I said to Craig, ‘Do you realize when you come back you’re going to get standing ovations everywhere and do you realize how annoying that’s going to be.’ He is really handling it extremely well. We look forward to seeing him back.