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Ian Eagle: Nets ‘a threat to get anybody in the league’ this summer

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YES Network

YES announcer Ian Eagle got the Steve Serby treatment in the Post Sunday: an in-depth interview that asks sports celebrities about everything from career highlights to favorite actor.

Timing is good. Nets will honor Eagle Thursday night during their game with the Trail Blazers. It’s his 25th year with the team.

And since Eagle always knows a lot about the team, it’s good to listen closely to what he says. Like about whether he thinks the Nets have a chance with top free agents.

Q: Can the Nets woo a Kevin Durant?

A: They’ve put themselves in a position where players and agents are now taking them seriously. They will now have a seat at the table. They were not relevant … now they are, and that’s based on [general manager] Sean Marks and [coach] Kenny Atkinson making a concerted effort to change the culture and to change the persona of the franchise. Not easy to do.

Q: So you think they could be a threat to the Knicks as far as getting Durant and Kyrie Irving?

A: They’re a threat to get anybody in the league if they get the chance to sit down with them and truly make their case.

Being a Steve Serby interview, it veers left and right, up and down, with much of it linked to the Nets, either now or in the past 25 years.

Q: What are some personal highlights or favorite memories during those 25 years.

A: Having a front row seat for Jason Kidd in his prime was a career highlight. Vince Carter may be the greatest showman I’ve seen on a basketball court. That 2001-02 season was magical, the Nets were suddenly a topic around the NBA for all the right reasons.

And he says, they are a topic again for a lot of reasons...

Q: How good of a coach is Kenny Atkinson?

A: I think he has a chance to be an elite coach. He has all the makings that you look for — interpersonal skills, knowledge and then instincts. As the team has gotten better, he’s gotten better. Those relationships that he’s formed with the players and the trust level, we’re not privy to that. … I think he’s excelled in that area.

Eagle gives thumbnail sketches of the announcers and analysts who he’s shared a mic, starting with the current set.

Q: Jim Spanarkel.

A: Sneaky good. I think Jim worked so hard to be a good player and to achieve what he did in his career on the basketball court, that he applied the same work ethic to the broadcast side. But does it in a way that can sometimes be viewed as under the radar, but he deserves to be mentioned with the best analysts in the game.

Q: Sarah Kustok.

A: The real deal. She knows the game, she knows the language, she understands television and she gets it. A special person. She has that it factor.

Q: Richard Jefferson.

A: I think it’s the first time I’ve ever worked with someone that’s made $100 million in their career. Richard can work without a safety net, and that is very freeing as a broadcaster. He has no filter, he is a really interesting person that brings a perspective that I just have not heard before. He is willing to go places that others will not go.

... As well as the classics

Q: Describe Marv Albert.

A: Legend. The broadcaster that I emulated growing up. When I started attempting to do play-by-play, I was doing a bad ripoff of him, like every other New York kid that wanted to go into this business. He brought you in. He knew how to build drama. He understood timing, the way he used his voice building towards a crescendo. His banter with his partners that opened my eyes to a whole other view of this, that you could have fun … that you could bust chops … that if the audience is in on it, then it feels … like a community, that everybody is part of it.

Q: Bill Raftery.

A: He’s a one-of-a-kind person. It’s all organic, and there is no difference from the guy on the air to the guy off the air. And there’s a reason why he’s resonated within college basketball. You’ll never find a person that would say a bad word about him. Completely genuine and sincere.

And talks about the game he most enjoyed calling...

On a personal level, the Nets-Pacers ’02 first-round series Game 5. Reggie Miller hits a heave to send it into overtime, Miller dunks the ball to send it into a second overtime, then Jason Kidd just willed the team to victory. It was a special win for that franchise, and I was doing the game with Bill Raftery, so it meant a lot. It’s rare you get to say you’ve worked with the best.

There’s a LOT more there including his pride in his son, Noah; his history with coaches like Gregg Popovich and Jim Boeheim, what stars are like as broadcasters, why he’s had 135 broadcast partners, his style and how it developed ... and of course ketchup.

And in a bonus, the Post also included five minutes worth of Ian’s greatest calls.

Thursday sounds like it will be fun.