Weekly lineup

 Tuesday, December 14
Marv Albert to return to NBC
Associated Press

 NEW YORK -- Right from the start, Bob Costas looked at his role as lead voice on NBA games for NBC as a temporary assignment. On Tuesday, the network restored Marv Albert as its top basketball broadcaster for the 2000-01 season.

Costas stepped in two years ago when Albert pleaded guilty in a sexual assault case and was fired by NBC. Now he is happy to turn the microphone back to Albert.

"I've been happy to do it and not slighted to give it back," he said. "I've always felt basketball was Marv's signature sport. Marv and the NBA is the way it should be."

Albert has slowly reconstructed his career. He was hired first by Madison Square Garden Network to do a nightly roundup show, then by Turner Sports for NBA games. Six months ago, NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol made him one of the announcers on the network's NBA crew.

"I'm fortunate the way things have worked out," Albert said. "I'm thrilled. I'm happy as part of the mix."

Tuesday's announcement was forced as much by Costas' crowded schedule as anything else. He will be the host of NBC's Olympic coverage -- Sydney this summer and Salt Lake City in 2002. In February 2001 he adds a sports magazine show on HBO.

"There is no way with Sydney and Salt Lake that close that he could do the NBA, too," Ebersol said. "Winter sports is not an area of great knowledge for Bob or anybody else. And with the HBO series in 2001 running 12 straight weeks right in the NBA's time, there was no way he could do it. "

Costas, an 11-time Emmy Award winner, will be the host for the Winter Games for the first time. He took the HBO job with Ebersol's blessing.

"Bob has been a major part of our brand for 20 years," Ebersol said. "You don't willingly share somebody. But he did things he didn't have to do. We ought to do the same for him."

Costas says the HBO show offers him the opportunity to do the kind of television in which he is most interested.

"It's all I want to do and what I am best suited to do," he said. "And Marv winds up doing what he is best suited to do."

Costas will remain part of NBC's NBA programming. After completing his third season as lead voice with Doug Collins, he will contribute interview pieces but not play-by-play. Albert will work this season with Collins and Hall of Famer Bill Walton.

Ebersol lauded Costas' basketball work.

"You can be very good announcing basketball and be not as good as Marv," he said. "It turns out Costas does basketball pretty well. But nobody is Marv Albert."

NBC's 1999-2000 NBA coverage begins with a doubleheader on Christmas Day featuring New York at Indiana at 7 p.m. EST, followed by San Antonio at the Los Angeles Lakers. Albert and Collins will work the second game.

Costas has the day off, his first Christmas off in four years. He will return to work with Collins when the network's weekly NBA telecasts begin in January.

Albert plans to keep working with MSG Network and Turner Sports.

"The man is like a modern NASCAR driver," Ebersol said. "He wears many logos."