TNT's lead NBA play-by-play man called his seventh Super Bowl for Westwood One last month.
Dan Patrick: What did you think of the NBA's G-E-I-C-O H-O-R-S-E competition?
Marv Albert: I am an avid H-O-R-S-E fan. Or G-E-I-C-O. Back in the days on the schoolyard in Brooklyn we played quite a bit, and I had a system that seemed to work if I was trailing, which was most of the time. I would say, "It's H-O-R-S-E-S." And if I was still trailing, I'd say, "There's an apostrophe."
DP: If you shoot a jumper and you make it, do you yell out, "Yesssss!"?
MA: If I were playing? No. I was very shy as a kid, actually. But a friend of mine, when we were playing two-on-two, would do play-by-play. He would mimic an NBA referee named Sid Borgia, who used to say, "Yes, and it counts," if a guy got fouled. It turns out he was a big influence on me when I started broadcasting.
DP: Could I hire you to do play-by-play at a pickup game, or for a bar mitzvah?
MA: Actually, my son Kenny would be available for that. He works some side jobs.
DP: Are you saying I couldn't afford you?
MA: I didn't say that. You know, a corned beef sandwich might do it, from certain delicatessens. Cash is not needed, no.
DP: What do you remember about Jordan's 55 at the Garden?
MA: That is one of the amazing games because what stands out most is the mentality of Jordan—that he is on fire and it comes down to a game-winning play against a very good and aggressive Knicks team, and then he finds the wide-open Bill Wennington underneath for the layup. Most guys would have taken a shot.
DP: Do you realize that I came up with en fuego listening to you say that Sam Cassell was "on fire"? I kept saying el fuego, which means "the fire." Then I finally get a Spanish teacher who wrote me a letter saying, "I think you mean en fuego."
MA: I can understand that.
DP: Thanks for my career, Marv.
The King of Pop
ONE GUY didn't do himself any favors at the NFL combine last week: Andre Smith. The Alabama tackle, who was suspended for the Sugar Bowl after an unspecified violation of team rules, showed up in Indianapolis out of shape and left a day early, saying he was going to work out with his own trainer. SI's Peter King told me, "He single-handedly dropped himself from third [pick in the draft] to 33rd. He's costing himself millions." At the other end of the spectrum, according to King, was Rey Maualuga (above). The USC linebacker may not be imposing, but put him on the field and he gets results. Or, as Peter put it, "He's peaceful, passive, sounds a little like Michael Jackson. Then you see him out on the football field, and he's Jack Tatum."
Ready to Rumble
EVERYONE swoons over the LeBron-Kobe showdowns, but the matchup Reggie Miller wants to see is happening this Thursday night, when the Rockets host the Cavs. Why? "I can't wait to see LeBron James, at 260 pounds, go against the beast, Ron Artest," Miller said of Houston's 260-pounder. He thinks Shane Battier will start the game on James to keep Artest out of foul trouble, but that down the stretch Artest will pick up James—a thought that had Miller raving like Don King. "Ron will get really ticked off when LeBron starts going crazy," Miller told me. "Then late, this will be like a heavyweight fight. Like Tim Witherspoon against John Mugabi. This is beautiful!"
Going by the Book
ALEX RODRIGUEZ hasn't had many defenders, but on Monday he received support from an interesting source: umpire Tim McClelland. The longtime man in blue told me that he doesn't consider A-Rod a cheater because baseball didn't penalize steroid users during the time Rodriguez has admitted taking PEDs. McClelland argued that what Rodriguez did was no worse than a pitcher scuffing a ball, which MLB had explicitly outlawed. "If there wasn't a rule in baseball, I can't chastise somebody who was trying to make himself better," he said.
THE FINE PRINT: Reggie Jackson drove the pace car at the NASCAR Auto Club 500. Unfortunately, he couldn't get the car out of third person.
Go to DANPATRICK.COM for more from Marv Albert and other recent interviews, and to hear live audio of Dan's radio show, 9 a.m.--noon ET, Mon.--Fri.
ILLUSTRATION BY KEITH WITMER
JOHN PYLE/CAL SPORT MEDIA (MAUALUGA)
DILIP VISHWANAT/GETTY IMAGES (MCCLELLAND)
JOHN KRONDES/GLOBE PHOTOS INC. (ALBERT)