This will be Marv Albert's 25th NBA all-star game, and if it is up to him, it won't be his last.
The 78-year-old is in the penultimate year of his contract, but has no plans to step down from TNT's lead voice.
"It's still fun," said Albert. "I love preparation, I still do. It was a sad year with the loss of David Stern and Kobe Bryant.
“I still really enjoy what I do at every stage: the preparation, the games, the wonderful people I work with. It's a great life. "
Albert has been TNT's leading player since 1999 and has played every all-star game since 2002. After two years in office of Bob Costas, he took the lead again.
He had been in sports long enough to remember Adrian "Odie" Smith, who won the All-Star Game MVP in 1966 because that honor was associated with a new car. The Cincinnati Royals Point Guard simply refused to pass the ball in a game with 14 future Hall of Famers.
"When you go back and watch the older games, you know you won't, but once you do, you can just see how much slower the game was," said Albert. "In the past few years it has become too much school playground due to the ability and the sportiness has made such a big leap."
“The skills are so different that too many passes fall off the backboard. In the past few years it has gotten out of hand to have too many players trying to put on a show. "
The NBA tried to fix that. In 2018, they rejected the standard format of the east and west conference for a draft, with the highest voices of each conference acting as captains. The latest game structure will be presented on Sunday.
Each quarter starts with a 0-0 result and counts as a separate matchup. The fourth quarter is unlimited in time and a final target number – 24 points higher than the cumulative score of the leading team – determines the winner. The 24 is a tribute to Kobe Bryant, as are the jerseys – the Giannis Antetokounmpo team will all wear number 24, while LeBron James' team will wear number 2 to honor Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who is with The Legend of the Lakers and seven other people died in a helicopter crash last month.
"They want to improve and innovate, so they have developed a new format. I think that will improve the game, ”said Albert. "It's a fascinating experiment. I thought it was going to be a bit too show-like and not a real basketball."
Albert spoke of not really basketball and had a few rare friendly words for the Knicks after he quarreled with the franchise in 2004 after 35 years as a play-by-play man. Albert thought Leon Rose's upcoming appointment as team president was a wise choice as long as the longtime agent hires a coach to fuel a starved fan base.
"It is moving in the right direction. I think Mike Miller is doing a really good job in a really difficult situation. But I think you need to work with a more experienced and successful NBA head coach to make fans more excited," said Albert, "They are desperate for signs of progress, be it a Jeff Van Gundy or a Tom Thibodeau or Mark Jackson, names that have been mentioned.
"Because the Knicks were so bad, it's a great job for an elite coach because every success is celebrated." You could eventually take the next step, but you need to find the right person. It's been such a long drought and it's not that easy to change a franchise's makeup. So you have to start with an elite trainer. "
Albert said he was accepting his own future.
"I feel really good now," said Albert when asked if he had a retirement schedule. "I have an extended contract [into next year], I have to say I take it year after year. "