The worst performance of the Western Conference Finals wasn’t Russell Westbrook’s four turnovers in the final two minutes of Game 6, Shaun Livingston’s disappearing act, or the referees letting Draymond Green get away with murder. No, the worst performance of the Western Conference Finals belonged to TNT announcer Marv Albert.
Albert, who has been calling basketball for nearly 50 years, made a number of simple and obvious errors throughout the series—several per game. He didn’t notice when the whistle was blown, was always behind the play, constantly mixed up players, attributed fouls to the wrong player or wrong incident, didn’t know the score, and incorrectly contradicted on-screen graphics, among other mistakes.
To be charitable, several errors could be attributed to deafening crowd noise in the Oklahoma City and Golden State arenas. But a number had nothing to do with the sound.
He mistook Klay Thompson for Shaun Livingston and was early on his shot clock countdown:
He attributed a Steph Curry shot attempt to Thompson:
He watched Andre Iguodala tie the game with a free throw and proclaimed the Thunder were up by two:
He clarified that Curry’s shot was a two because his foot was on the line, when his back heel was on his line and the other foot was clearly in front of it:
He forgot that Russell Westbrook threw the ball away moments earlier and said he had zero turnovers, as the on-screen graphic showed he had one:
After hearing a whistle he said that Curry was fouled despite no defender being particularly close to him, not noticing that the Thunder had actually called a timeout:
He gave Curry all the credit for an Andrew Bogut block:
And those were just the ones I could remember and easily find video of.
The old cliché about referees or offensive linemen—the best ones are the ones you don’t notice—usually applies to announcers too, but not Marv Albert. Especially when calling basketball, Albert is one of the few announcers who makes the experience more enjoyable, somehow varying his simple “Yes!” catchphrase to perfectly suit each moment. But throughout the series, Albert stood out for his errors, making for an extremely distracting game-watching experience.
TNT has a terrific backup to Albert in Kevin Harlan, who deserves to be calling the marquee match-ups if Albert remains so error-prone. But Turner Sports might be stuck: earlier this year they re-signed Albert, who turns 75 during the NBA Finals, to a multi-year contract extension. The new contract took him off of NCAA games specifically so that he could be in top shape to call NBA games.
Turner Sports declined to comment on Albert’s performance during the series, or whether there have been any discussions yet about his role for next season.