Time to get that rug back from the cleaners.

Ex-NBC sportscaster Marv Albert, fired last year following a tawdry back-biting trial on sexual assault charges, will return to the air with a New York City cable channel, it was announced today.

Albert, 57, will anchor Sports Desk, a nightly, Sportscenter-esque highlight show on the Big Apple's Madison Square Garden Network. His first air date: September 14.

"This is a day for me to look forward," Albert told reporters at an afternoon press conference.

The famed hoops announcer, he of the trademark "Yesss!" howl, also will get to call about half the games for his old team, the New York Knicks, on local radio.

In explaining why Madison Square Garden was renewing its 30-year relationship with Albert, MSG president Dave Checketts noted that the sportscaster had undergone therapy, at the network's request. Albert himself said he will continue to attend the regular sessions.

"He got himself together in a good way," Checketts said. "We have decided that the time--now--is right."

In looking ahead, Albert also looked back, offering his strongest statement of contrition to date.

"What I did was wrong," the play-by-play man said.

Albert has not worked since pleading guilty last September 25 to misdemeanor assault and battery.

The trial depicted Albert as a toupee-wearing, panties-clad, anything-goes guy who, as the criminal indictment charged, bit a woman on the back and forced her to perform oral sex on him.

After Albert copped the plea, the Peacock severed ties with its longtime basketball and football announcer. Then in short order, the disgraced celeb resigned from gigs as the voice for the Knicks and hockey's New York Rangers.

Albert's exile was intermittently interrupted by reports of reputed job offers, including one with the NBA's Miami Heat. None materialized. Until now.

(ORIGINALLY POSTED at 11:30 a.m. on 7/15/98)

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