They are three of the most significant sports voices of the last half-century. One is arguably the greatest NFL play-by-player ever. Another holds the same distinction for the NBA. And the third has called the Yankees for more than three decades. All three — Al Michaels, Marv Albert and John Sterling — are eager to …
They are three of the most significant sports voices of the last half-century. One is arguably the greatest NFL play-by-player ever. Another holds the same distinction for the NBA. And the third has called the Yankees for more than three decades.
All three — Al Michaels, Marv Albert and John Sterling — are eager to work and have thoughts on how the returns of their sports and their jobs could play out.
With their longevity, they are also in the age demographic that has been particularly hit hard by the coronavirus.
And, in keeping with the not one-size-fits-all of the current situation, all envision the circumstances and timing of their sports and setups differently.
Michaels strongly believes NFL broadcasters will be at stadiums in the fall. Albert thinks NBA broadcasters will be calling games from studios in July. Sterling said it could be a combo of the two for baseball in the summer.
Nothing is set, but they are ready and without much trepidation.
“No, not for me,” Michaels, 75, told The Post. “I’m at the point that I’ve done this my whole life. I’m not a fearful person. I understand that we have to take precautions here.”
Albert, 78, thinks it might be a return to when he was in sixth grade in the 50s, calling games off a TV. Albert said he hasn’t been told anything official, but if the NBA goes through with its plan to be in Orlando or Vegas in July, he thinks he and his analysts will most likely be in Turner Sports’ Atlanta studios calling the games off a monitor. He thought a sideline reporter could be on site.
As for the setup, Albert said it will be strange with no crowd noise, but there could be some benefits.
“Some of the natural sound would be actually fun for fans to hear, but they’d be careful screening the language,” Albert said.
As for Yankees radio, Sterling, 81, doesn’t expect he and his partner, Suzyn Waldman, to be traveling for road games. Those WFAN broadcasts would likely be done out of YES’ Stamford office, he said, but for home games, it does seem very possible to practice social distancing from the broadcast booths in an empty Yankee Stadium.
“One thing I brought up, there won’t be anyone else there,” Sterling said. “We could sit in two booths, but right next to each other with the glass separating us so we can look at each other [for cues.]”
The timing of MLB and the NBA make the circumstances different than the NFL, which, in theory, could have a more normal season with crowd adjustment that could be as drastic as no fans or some capacity.
Michaels thinks that if it is not safe enough to travel by the fall then he can’t imagine how they are playing games at all.
“I would hate to think we would not be able to be in the stadium and announce the games from some other location,” Michaels said. “That would not fly as far as I am concerned. You have to be able to feel it, even without fans.”
As for now, all three sounded content and ready to go. Michaels and Albert are streaming Netflix, reading and watching old games.
Michaels loved “Tiger King,” thought “McMillions” was pretty good and has been in and out on “Ozark.” Albert has streamed “Ozark,” “Fauda,” “Godfather of Harlem,” “Justified” and “American Factory.” And, of course, “The Last Dance,” which featured many of his calls of Michael Jordan’s exploits.
“I thought it was so well done,” Albert said.
They’ve been checking some of the old games, which often featured their calls.
One night, Michaels said there was a “Sunday Night” game on NBC Sports Network. MLB Network had Game 1 of the 1995 World Series between Atlanta and Cleveland, which he called for ABC.
Then he received a text from Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
“We are doing Lakers against Detroit on NBA TV right now,” Rivers wrote, as he and Michaels called the NBA Finals on ABC in 2004.
Next, his 13-year-old grandson, Nate, texted, “Papop, I’m watching the movie ‘Miracle’ on USA Network.”
“So I am the most overexposed guy in America,” Michaels said.
Soon, they all hope to be calling games again. Who doesn’t want to hear them?
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