According to the NYPost, a few hours earlier he had learned John Andariese, his longtime broadcast partner both on television and radio, had died at his home in Florida after a long battle with dementia.
Andariese, the Knicks analyst for nearly 35 years, was 78. The Knicks announced his death Monday night on Twitter with a simple photo of a smiling Andariese and the dates of his birth and death.
“He was one of the nicest people I have ever been fortunate enough to know,” Albert said. “Aside from the fact that he was a terrific, terrific broadcaster, we had a great time on and off the court together. It’s a really tough time right now.”
Andariese began working on the team’s radio broadcasts in 1972 and for 12 years was the network’s television analyst on MSG Networks alongside Albert before returning to the radio side. Andariese resigned before the 2012-13 season, in part to spend more time with his family.
Our thoughts and prayers today go out to John’s family. Rest in peace "Johnny Hoops." pic.twitter.com/AWC3DpBoYE— MSG Networks (@MSGNetworks) March 14, 2017
On the air, a visibly shaken Al Trautwig shared the news with viewers, saying “Our hearts are truly broken” and called his friend “one of the classiest men anybody ever met. … I love that guy.”
A multiple local Emmy Award winner, Andariese was one of the few NBA analysts who never played or coached in the league. The Brooklyn native, nicknamed “Johnny Hoops,” was a three-time city player of the year at Fordham (1956-60). The Rams’ captain his senior year, he led the team to a pair of NIT berths.
He was inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014 and is enshrined in the New York City and Fordham basketball halls of fame.