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Marv Albert on frenemy Steve Kerr: ‘I would block his punch’

Marv Albert is on the phone, but you’ll have to excuse him if he has a difficult time hearing some of your questions.
“My ears are still ringing,” he said Monday afternoon, referring to the raucous cheers that filled Oracle Arena the previous night during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference Finals.
That would be the game where Stephen Curry emphatically bounced back from his shooting woes and the Warriors put a 126-85 beat-down on the Houston Rockets to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
“It was like a gigantic party,” says Albert, who is providing play-by-play of the games — with analysts Reggie Miller and Chris Webber — for TNT. “Oracle still has one of the best — and loudest — crowds in the NBA. It was incredible.”
But what to make of this series? The Warriors took Game 1 in Houston with a staunch 13-point victory, only to get trounced by 22 points in Game 2. Can we finally expect a closely fought game Tuesday night (6 p.m., TNT) when the series resumes in Oakland?
“That would certainly be nice,” says Albert. “One thing we’ve learned from watching the playoffs is that what happens in one game does not necessarily lead to another. It will be interesting to see how the Rockets respond. I guess (Houston coach) Mike D’Antoni had to make a point when he called his team ‘soft.’ There might be some truth to that, but I think he was mainly trying to get into his players’ heads.”
Even with the blowouts, TNT is posting some impressive ratings. Through three games, the cable network’s telecasts of the Western Conference Finals have averaged eight million viewers. That’s up 30 percent from TNT’s coverage of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals (Cavaliers-Celtics), and an 18 percent boost over the 2017 Western Finals (Warriors-Spurs). Sunday’s game was the weekend’s top-rated sports program across all of television — broadcast and cable.
The solid ratings, claims Albert, are testament to the NBA’s ever-growing popularity.
“It’s probably the greatest it’s ever been,” says the Hall of Fame broadcaster who has been associated with the NBA for nearly 50 years. “For me, it really started with the Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Those guys were mobbed everywhere they went. They were like the Beatles. Now, you’re seeing the European influx (of players). The game is probably more global than any other sport. … And the league is filled with recognizable stars. Look at how many NBA players show up in TV commercials these days. You don’t see all that many baseball players in the commercials.”
While ESPN carries this year’s Eastern Finals, TNT is the exclusive home of the Western games, which means Albert has more opportunities to run into Warriors coach Steve Kerr. The two men enjoy a close — and playfully combative — relationship that developed during Kerr’s days as an NBA broadcaster alongside Albert.
Albert says Kerr has a “twisted sense of humor.”
“If you visit his office, you’ll see a dart board on the wall with a nearly life-size picture of me,” he says. “He thinks that’s very funny.”
Ah, but there was a time when the relationship got a little testy. Recently, while fielding reporters’ questions about Charles Barkley’s derisive, face-punching comments about Draymond Green, Kerr recalled a telecast during which he said on the air that he wanted to punch Albert. Alas, no fists were thrown and they “made up” at halftime.
Albert swears that he can’t recall the specific incident (“Maybe it was when Steve was being mentioned as a possible Knicks coach. I might have said something sarcastic.”). But nonetheless he thinks he would have come out just fine in a run-in with Kerr.
“I would have handled him the same way Michael Jordan handled him,” he says, referring to the infamous 1995 scrap between Jordan and Kerr during practice when they were Chicago Bulls teammates.
After pondering his statement for a few moments, Albert lets out a laugh and offers an amendment:
“OK, let’s just say I would have blocked the punch.”
Truth be told, Albert has major respect for Kerr — as a “well-rounded” person, a ring-winning coach and someone who has increasingly spoken out on politics and social issues.
“I know some fans just want the players and coaches to be quiet and stick to sports,” Alberts says. “But I see nothing wrong with (speaking out) in these times. He’s a very intelligent guy. I applaud him. I wish more guys would do it.”

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