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Albert draws a hug, pats on the back and some hecklers

May 25, 1997

MIAMI (AP) _ NBC broadcaster Marv Albert braved a few hecklers and overwhelming media attention to broadcast his first NBA playoff game since his indictment on sex charges.

``I’m just focusing on the game. I hate to bring all this into it, you know, that’s the worse part of it.″ Albert said Saturday after his pre-game show for the Chicago Bulls’ 98-74 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Albert then was embraced by Miami Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson, who was at courtside, and was patted on the back by a few fans. He avoided a horde of reporters by going to an undisclosed location at the Miami Arena before emerging just before tipoff to call the play-by-play.

Albert, 53, is charged with forcible sodomy and assault on a 41-year-old woman. She told police he bit her repeatedly and forced her to perform oral sex in an Arlington, Va., hotel room Feb. 12.

If convicted, the longtime announcer for the New York Knicks and NBC could face five years to life in prison. Albert has proclaimed his innocence.

His fiancee, Heather Faulkiner, watched the pre-game show from a nearby seat. Albert made no mention of the charges during the broadcast.

Fans at the Miami Arena saved their boos for the Bulls, but there were a few fans screaming, ``Bite me, Marv!″ and ``Marv for president!″

There was also a lot of support for the veteran broadcaster.

``He hasn’t been found guilty. He should be left alone,″ said Claudia Potamkin of Miami.

During the game there was just one fan behind Albert on the sideline who heckled him, but he continued to call him Brent Musburger.

Musburger, a colleague covering the game for ESPN radio, said, ``I wasn’t indicted. I can’t relate. If he’s innocent it wouldn’t bother me. There’s enormous distraction.″

NBC said everything was routine in the broadcast. It said its decision to have Albert work the game was based on his denial of charges, the lack of due process in the indictment and the broadcaster’s 20 years with the network.

When an NBC official, who didn’t want to be named, was asked if the network would regret the decision if Albert is found guilty, he responded: ``There’s no if. ... Obviously, the conclusion is that he works.″

Albert said Thursday he was innocent of the charges and criticized a grand jury system that never heard his testimony.

It was also revealed that his accuser _ a woman who says she is a longtime acquaintance of Albert _ faces charges of threatening to kill a former boyfriend in March.

A complaint was also made last September to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by a female co-worker who alleged the woman physically harassed her.

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