The Czar

Funny story about the Czar, Mike Fratello, from the Memphis Commerical Appeal (or whatever the heck that paper is called). They were a good broadcast team.

When [Marv] Albert talks about Fratello, there's a lot of laughing and verbal jabbing. It's safe to say that Albert has never had a broadcast partner that he has poked more fun of than Fratello, who Albert nicknamed "The Czar."

"It just came out," Albert said of the nickname. "We just got the telestrator for our broadcasts, and Mike was very adept on it. I just called him the Czar of the Telestrator.

"It stuck. There may have been Czar T-shirts and hats at one time. I think he makes his family call him that."

Albert said he and Fratello have stayed in contact.

"He called me last (Thursday) night after I'd done the Lakers-Cavs game," Albert said. "He left me a message saying he still wanted to be included in the welcome to the telecast. Welcome to Staples Center with Marv Albert, Steve Kerr, Craig Sager and the Czar.

"I call him and tell him when I watch Grizzlies' games that it's very annoying when he's up off the bench and on the floor. It's very distracting, particularly when it's in HDTV."

It's tough to get a straight answer from Albert about Fratello, like asking him about Fratello's desire to get back into coaching.

"The last couple of years, we'd sent out resumes everywhere trying to get rid of ... I mean get him a job," Albert said. "We got a couple of bites overseas and the CBA was a possibility. I think when we finally sent out out the color photos of the Czar, that really clinched it with Memphis."

Seriously, Albert says he misses Fratello ("I'll never tell him that," Albert said) for several reasons.

"Aside from his obvious knowledge of the game, Czar was like a walking punchline," Albert said. "He was really good at taking the kidding. Of course, he thinks we were kidding. We were actually serious."

And by the way, whenever I happen to watch a Knicks game, I keep expecting to hear Marv Albert pipe in with one-liner responses to Clyde Frazier's verbal acrobatics. Screw you James Dolan, dorkweed.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on January 16, 2005 3:29 PM.

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