Monthly Archives: February 2011

Marv Albert, Coming to a College Near You

There are a precious few occasions in a persons life where they can distinctly recall the exact specifics of a particular moment.

The smell of popcorn, fresh cut grass and the proud feeling of being American at your first ballgame. Sweaty palms, some hybrid flower thing called a corsage and your first self booked hotel room at prom or your wedding perhaps, which for me is more than a lifetime away.

My first encounter with Hall of Fame broadcaster Marv Albert was one of those moments.

If you know anything about basketball, Albert is a living legend. His god sent voice and catch phrases are pure truths in the sports bible. No one can transcend a basketball game like Marv.

Heck, he was the reason I devoted my life to sports.

The irony of this individual situation, is that before I met Marv those few rare moments that you can recall so eloquently, for me at least, had to do with Marv Albert.

Um, with a splash of “Michael Jordan!” too.

When I recently had the chance to speak with Albert about calling the play-by-play for the 2011 NCAA Tournament for Turner Sports alongside Steve Kerr, I jumped on the first train to the Big Apple to talk to the new big man on campus.

Now, I have to admit I’m not one to get star-struck but this was one of those occasions where it felt good, it actually felt right, to feel like a kid again as Albert took the reigns of the conversation as only a grandfather figure could do.

You better believe I was ready to listen.

After decades of covering the greatest players in the world in the NBA how does a veteran like Marv Albert make the adjustment to the college level?

He does what all the kids are doing.

“I’m so proud I can actually watch the games on my iphone,” laughed Albert. “I actually had to ask Steve (Kerr) how it works.”

His veteran status also helps his cause, especially in the laid back college atmosphere.

“The great advantage over the NBA is being able to go to practice,” said Albert. “To me it was always very very helpful to sit through the practice in terms of recognition of who the players are. To be able to sit down and talk to people that’s critical.”

There’s no doubt with Albert calling names like Jimmer Fredette (look him up) up until this years Sweet 16, players will be getting a little more recognition that usual.

But this isn’t the first time Albert has brought to light the stars of the future.

“Of course I called Michael Jordan back during the ’84 season,” recalls Albert.

Fittingly enough Albert would be the voice for the rest of Jordan’s biggest moments throughout his miraculous career.

But after Albert went full time broadcasting in the NBA he couldn’t help wonder what it would be like to continue to solidify players careers, like only he can do, on the biggest tournament stage.

“To me, it would be the Grant Hill pass to Christian Laettner,” Albert said with a pause. “I mean… wow. There’s others but not on the stage of Laettner.”

Laettner’s buzzer-beater to shock Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA East Regional Finals at the Philadelphia Spectrum is probably one of those rare moments, at least to Duke fans.

Imagine if Albert made that call. Wow.

At this moment Albert looked as boyish as I must have looked, especially when I mentioned that the Spectrum, the house that harbored this great memory for him, was being demolished as we spoke.

“The Spectrum is a great place. It’s sad to see it go. So much history there. The new place, whatever its called now, not so much.”

It took us a moment to run through all the names the now Wells Fargo Center has been called before we both agreed there’s only one place that might just be the Spectrum’s match.

“I remember calling games at the Palestra and it was great how we were right there. The crowd was right on top of us. The players the coaches everything is right there and we were in the middle of it all.”

If you’ve ever been to the Palestra on the University of Penn’s campus you’d know the feeling. Essentially it’s and over crowded, fire hazardous, high schoolish gym.

The perfect storm for an inner city Big-5 battle.

“Philadelphia is a great basketball city especially in the Chaney days,” said Albert.

I was back to feeling like a kid again.

“Even now Temple has a great program with all that Fran Dunphy has done. And with Jay (Wright) at Villanova, everyone- media and fans- seems to love him.”

Whether or not Albert loves Jay Wright and Villanova is another story. His Alma Mater is Syracuse, fellow Big East rival.

But like everything he does, Albert stays professional- even if the Orangemen might pull off five overtime win with him at the mic.

“In my case I’ve done Syracuse in the past but I think objectivity is more important than anything else,” said Albert when I asked him if he had ‘Cuse circled on his bracket. “You just want a terrific game.”

I never did get that bracketology 101 from him but what I did learn is that Marv Albert know his basketball and he knows it well.

With the revolutionary teaming up of CBS and Turner Sports the NCAA is in good hands.

So who will Albert deem spine tingling moment worthy in this years NCAA tourney?

Only his voice will tell.

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Nothing Screams America Like Wing Bowl

Booze, babes and bitter cold temperatures. There’s just nothing quite like WIP’s Annual Wing Bowl to sum of the Philadelphia fan.

Oh yeah and there’s wings in case anyone cares.

The annual contest features the worlds’ most gluttonous men and women downing ungodly pounds of chicken wings while nations across the world starve.

Our fore fathers really missed out on this one.

While “Proud to be an American” blasts throughout the Wells Fargo Center, teams of intoxicated participants and their entourages stroll around the arena on home made floats as they make their way to the eaters podium.

Where else can you casually bump into Ron Jeremy (luckily it’s freezing out) as he strolls about the ceremony wearing red clogs rocking the same hairdo since ’73?

Where else can you see the worlds’ greatest competitive eater Kobayashi, wearing a personalized Philadelphia Flyers jersey serving as the events 19th year commish of honor?

Where else can you see guys like the Polish Assassin, Super Squibb and El Wingador consume thousands of wings?

Where else can you watch twenty five competitors in all (scandal struck as No. 26 backed out, a completion first) while Vegas like odds predict the $50k poultry pounding winner?

Or Megatron mega hooters?

No where USA, that’s where.

About the only thing missing was the Colonial himself.

All the festivites begin at 6:00 am sharp while over 20,000 inebriated college students and middle aged men go wild for less than quality strippers flossing American flag bikinis carrying their fanny packs of cottage cheese while savoring their undeserving 15 minutes of fame.

It’s beer goggle paradise and memories to cherish for a lifetime.

All the while Philadelphias’ best sports talk radio personalities and athletes talk about the important stuff like sports that fall upon deaf years except for the guy who lost his buzz because he was caught smuggling that last beer inside the event instead of hammering it in the parking lot.

Today is a day to be proud America. Embrace the art of the chicken wing, embrace these athletes that are willing to put their very lives at risk, on the spot mind you, as they down 200 plus wings each. Enjoy the beauty of the mechanical bull, ladies only please and the first annual Donovan McPuke Award- awarded to the first chump to puke- much like McNabb did throughout the biggest moments of his Eagles career.

It’s all on the line on February 4, where Punksatoney Phil takes a back seat to the live chicken that watches with open beak ready to maul the first heart attack victim.

PETA, Jenny Craig and child services turn a blind eye as whole chicken farms are slaughtered, men crush New Year weight loss resolutions and small children hold the hands of their heroic fathers in awe and appreciation for teaching them the female anatomy at the age of five while sipping on their first PBR pounder.

The spectacle is unofficially the unofficial passage into manhood.

This is Philadelphia. This is what the City of Brotherly love has to look forward to year after year when the Eagles don’t make the big game.

Pittsburgh can have the Super Bowl, Philadelphia would rather have Wing Bowl.

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