When you are talking about a legend, the greatest NBA play-by-player of all time in Marv Albert, you should treat the end of his career with respect.
After half a century of broadcasting, there remains something special about hearing Albert’s iconic voice on a big playoff series, as it will feel when the Eastern Conference Finals begins Wednesday night.
Still, if you are Jeff Zucker — and you have added oversight of Turner Sports to go along with your CNN duties — you have to lead. That means making the right calls, not the easy ones.
After the conference finals ends, Albert, 77, has two more seasons on his contract. Zucker should tell Albert he can remain the No. 1 guy, do the All-Star Game and the conference finals in a farewell season in 2019-20.
TNT and the NBA should celebrate Albert’s career in any fashion Albert prefers. The Dirk Nowitzki low-key model or a more Derek Jeter-like celebratory tour.
For the final year of his deal in 2020-21, Albert could still come back for a small package of games. But in the same way Jeter’s preseason retirement announcement in 2014 eased any focus on his performance, the same could be accomplished with Albert.
The reason Zucker should be respectfully proactive is because those who watch the NBA religiously know that Albert is not at the same level as his prime. It is smart to jump out in front of the decision to avoid a grinding, uncomfortable finality with too many unforced turnovers.
Zucker and his lieutenants are expected to devise a plan this offseason.
“Marv is a legendary broadcaster and we could not be prouder of our long association with him,” Zucker, the chairman of WarnerMedia News & Sports, said in a statement. “We’re excited to once again have him in the chair for the Eastern Conference Finals.”
Before Zucker took over, Turner had signed off on a plan. Under the old boss, David Levy, TNT surprisingly identified Brian Anderson as its No. 1 candidate to replace Albert.
While the Levy plan did not have Albert’s blessing yet, Albert’s agent, Sandy Montag, said they will listen to what Zucker has in mind.
“Marv is under contract to Turner,” Montag told The Post. “Jeff is a really smart guy. I’m sure he’ll develop a great plan. At the right time, Marv will do what makes sense. We’re looking forward to the conference finals.”
Albert has shown no indications that he wants to lower his profile or retire. But the right thing is sometimes the hard thing to do.
For Zucker, it is smarter to be a year early than a year late. Even if, potentially, it is not what a legend has in mind.
College football TV recruiting: Fox is in agreement with ESPN’s Brock Huard to become its No. 2 college football game analyst, sources told The Post.
Huard will join Joe Davis on Fox’s college football coverage second team behind Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt.
Fox is making a big play into college football and, while it may not work, you can understand its logic. First, it has created a big-name broadcast television college football pregame show led by analysts Urban Meyer, Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and Brady Quinn. Now it is trying to own the noon window by placing its best Big Ten or Big 12 game of the day there.
CBS already controls 3:30 with the SEC on Saturday, while ABC/ESPN has prime time. So now Fox can attempt to make the first game of the day its identity.
Its research shows that 11 million viewers watch at noon compared to 13 million in prime time, so putting its best game of the day there and potentially helping its new pregame adds up.
Romo sweepstakes: In January, The Post reported that CBS began its attempt to keep Tony Romo off the free-agent TV market. Romo, who will make around $3 million this season, is in the final year of his contract.
Since then, we have reported that Romo will attempt to eclipse John Madden’s NFL TV analyst record of $8 million a year. Besides the creativity that networks like Fox could display in luring Romo, the former Cowboys quarterback has added leverage since our initial report, as ESPN decided to stay pat with just Booger McFarland as its analyst, meaning “Monday Night Football” could be a suitor if Romo hits free agency after this year.
On Tuesday, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus talked confidently about retaining Romo.
“He’s done a great job for us,” McManus told Chris Russo on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio. “Part of his success is because we put such a great team around him, including Jim Nantz. I think Tony wants to stay at CBS. It is a chance to do Super Bowls. It is a chance to work with one of his idols, Jim Nantz. We have a great relationship with him. So I don’t see any issue with us renewing our contract with Tony in a very timely manner. He wants us and we want him. It makes sense for everybody to renew his deal.”
CBS is the favorite, but Romo, according to sources, is not expected to give much, if any, home-network discount.
NBC Scores: Soccer on TV has an advantage over all other sports for the Netflix generation: no commercials. Plus, you know a game will take two hours. Combine this with NBC Sports’ awesome production of the game, and it is not surprising that it reported 35 million total viewers this season for its Premier League coverage, which is nearly three times as many as the 13.3 million that ESPN/ESPN2/Fox Soccer brought in in 2012-13.
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