After making some calls on Sprewell that day, he’d wind up with something far more significant than trade news, and arguably the biggest scoop of his career. A source in the league office didn’t have a specific answer for Vecsey, but told him that there was “something happening out there” and urged him to check it out. Vecsey says he phoned up an ex-Warriors player – obviously, he won’t say who – that then called someone from the team. After hearing about how Sprewell had choked his head coach P.J. Carlesimo during practice, the source swiftly relayed the whole story back to Vecsey. This was about 7 pm. “I believed him, obviously,” Vecsey tells me, over a recent dinner in Manhattan. “He told me the whole story, and we go with it. Within an hour. We put that together in an hour.”
Peter Vecsey Rumors
According to Vecsey, Sprewell initially tried to “bogart” him, but then came clean about what he’d been accused of. “I’m not as bad as everyone has made me out to be,” Sprewell told Vecsey. “It’s as if I’m another O.J. Simpson. Yes, I was wrong, but I didn’t kill anybody. I’m not a double murderer. No matter what happens, I hope to sit down with P.J. some day and have a long conversation. I want to look in his eyes so he can see how sincere I am in my apology.” After that, Vecsey and Sprewell would actually become close after the latter joined the Knicks. The reporter says he also patched things up with Carlesimo, who became his colleague at NBC.
Former NBA Commissioner David Stern once booted Vecsey from a league-sanctioned studio show (more on that later), but has since come to count the reporter as a friend. “He had very good relationships and very good sources – he used to drive our general managers crazy because he was up on things that nobody else had information about,” Stern tells me. “We’ve had some pretty interesting shouting matches because there were times his instincts were not as great as he thought they were, and he had a story ass-backwards, but I actually came grudgingly to accept his basketball nose for picking up interesting stories.”
Smith disputed the notion, held by many over the years, that Vecsey was overly cruel: “What Pete did was [write in] the New York tabloid view, which, while to New Yorkers doesn’t seem mean, it seems mean to people in, like, Nebraska. The New York view is ‘If you can’t take a joke then screw you.’ With other people, it’s like ‘How could you say that?’”
Unlike George, Peter has been guided by none of journalism’s notions of fairness and ethical probity. He once hit up a coach he was covering, Kevin Loughery of the New Jersey Nets, for a job as an assistant. During the 1981-82 season, Peter accepted two low-interest loans totaling $60,000 from Leon Spiller, a close friend of Nets owner Joe Taub’s, to build a house on Shelter Island, in New York. Peter was questioned about the loans by his bosses at the Post, who chastised him but did not suspend him. The loans were a textbook example of conflict of interest–and a firing offense at most newspapers. Vecsey said in the piece he regretted taking the loans, but asserts it never compromised his honesty on the Nets. He does not see an issue with applying to work for teams, and cited examples to Jeff Pearlman of other writers joining teams, most recently John Hollinger. “I am positive I would’ve been an asset to one and all,” he said.
One apocryphal story of Vecsey on the court involves him slapping Mike Lupica – who Vecsey eventually nicknamed Pee-Wee Vermin in his column – in a pick-up game. Though the details are a little hazy, Vecsey confirms that it did indeed happen and believes it was in Washington DC, during a Celtics-Bullets series, when Lupica was at the now-defunct Boston Phoenix, before he became a major New York columnist. Vecsey felt that Lupica was shooting too often relative to his ability, told him enough, and Lupica shot again. (Lupica declined to comment for this piece.)