Peter Vecsey Rumors
Charles Barkley did two segments on the Dan Patrick Show this morning. When he was asked about Kevin Durant’s new beef with the media, Barkley started talking about the “clowns on the internet.” Then he went on a tangent about how most guys in the media are good guys at heart, but said that there are some “scumbags” like Peter Vecsey, Skip Bayless, and Phil Mushnick. Vecsey’s feud with Barkley dates way back, and Phil Mushnick was bashing Barkley’s ‘role model’ ad in the early 90’s. As for Bayless, Barkley has previously called him a “punk-ass” hater, and opined that the First Taker has “surpassed Vecsey as the biggest jackass in the history of journalism.”
Asked to pinpoint the best in the business, Vecsey told me it’s his view that you and Howard Beck, who now works for Bleacher Report, are the best all-around NBA reporters today. What does that assessment mean to you coming from Vecsey? Marc Stein: It’s priceless to hear something like that. Because Pete has always been one of my all-time favorites, which he knows because I always try to squeeze some more “mentoring” out of him on the rare occasions we cross paths. He took the whole NBA Insider genre to new levels with his columns and as the first hoop scribe to really make it big on TV. To give you a glimpse of the sort of influence Pete had when I started during that 1993-94 season — which was obviously pre-Internet and ages before texting and Facebook and Twitter — one of the first things I felt I HAD to do when I got moved onto the Clipper beat was buy a fax machine. And that’s because you could subscribe to the three-times-a-week faxed version of Pete’s “Hoop Du Jour” column and get all of his stuff no matter where you lived. I’m pretty sure that the first anyone heard of the Danny Manning-for-Dominique Wilkins trade that I referenced way back at the beginning was in Pete’s column. And if he wants to put me in the same sentence as my dear friend Hojo Beck, who actually succeeded me on the Laker beat at the Daily News and ranks as one of the finest wordsmiths who has ever covered the NBA, I’m even prouder.
In 1998, you applied to be the general manager of the Denver Nuggets—while working for the Post. This has always struck me as a conflict of interest. Tell me why I’m wrong. And do you think you would have/could have had a fruitful career as a GM. Peter Vecsey.: I was always told, you’ve got to have at least two conflicts of interest to be successful. Pro sports has plenty of former sportswriters-turned executives. The Knicks were started by Ned Irish. The latest example was John Hollinger leaving ESPN to become VP of basketball operations of Memphis. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to pursue front office or coaching, as long as it’s during the off-season? I tried to put together group to buy the Nuggets in the early ’80s … tried to get Rick Pitino to hire me as GM when he was running the Celtics … approached Larry Brown about helping him in Washington when he was close to coaching the Wizards … had an interview on tap as Hawks’ GM just before Stan Kasten left … and had a very brief interview with James Dolan to be Isiah Thomas’ GM. I am positive I would’ve been an asset to one and all.
Athletes struggle terribly in retirement. T-e-r-r-i-b-l-y. You left the Post in 2012. How have you adjusted to no longer having the column? No longer being on TV? Are you bored? Fidgety. How do you fill the time? Peter Vecsey.: Retirement is a mind trip. I do not miss deadline pressure and the everyday grind, or the travel. I do miss the process of compiling info and breaking stories. I miss most being able to salute the old timers while they’re alive and when they die. I tried to do that as much as possible and was really proud of the finished product. I left a cavity in that area that will never be filled. I also miss the paychecks, a lot. I don’t miss TV a bit. I don’t know how doing it for 20 years, while writing a column three times a week, didn’t kill me. Or I didn’t kill an editor or eight. My wife and I keep rather busy caring for rescue animals, horses, dogs and cats. Total currently is down to 21.
OK, Peter—since you’re as blunt a writer as they come, I’m going to be blunt. I attended the Basketball Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies when you were honored in 2011. I sat for your speech the night before—and I hated it. I just hated it. I thought it was mean, arrogant, condescending … etc. It wasn’t as bad as Michael Jordan’s brag-a-thon, but it was (in my meaningless opinion) petty. That said, I thought about it later, and wondered whether, perhaps, you were uncomfortable, nervous, whatever. You’d spent much of your career covering those in attendance, and maybe the moment didn’t work for that reason. Tell me, Peter. Am I off? Am I being too harsh? Or, in hindsight, were you like, “Um, that sucked?” PETER VECSEY.: It sucked, no debate. A rambling wreck. Shame on me for being so ill prepared and for careening out of control and jumping the divider on tangents into traffic. Still, not a single lie was told. I probably should have listened to instincts and rejected induction, on principle. As stated, in all immodesty and objectivity, induction was ten years or more overdue. Vindictiveness reigned behind the annual selections by a decision maker(s) with an ax to grind and wield. Many (some anyway) enshrined before (and after) greatly devalue the ‘honor’. I was pissed and made no attempt to hide it.
Chris Sheridan, a basketball writer for ESPN, sued basketball columnist Peter Vecsey and NYP Holdings, claiming they “published a maliciously false article” that impugned “Chris Sheridan’s veracity and competence as a journalist.” It’s hard to imagine that anything could impugn Sheridan’s journalistic competence more than a blatant disregard for the first amendment rights that give him the freedom to write about free throws and slam dunks, but according to the eight-page complaint Sheridan filed on Wednesday in Manhattan’s New York state court, Vecsey’s December 14th column in the New York Post was “shirking any semblance of responsible journalism.”