Question: In the Feb. 3 NY Post, columnist Peter Vescey defended his earlier reports that Al Harrington wanted to be traded to the Knicks. He even claimed that his detractors shouldn't rely on the local Pacer beat writer who's "often beaten to Pacer stories by the Post."
I've always wondered why Peter doesn't just write for the Star as he always seems to have all the inside info on our Pacers, lol. Any response? And have you talked to Al's agent, who apparently confirmed to Vescey Harrington's trade demands with the team? (Steve from Indianapolis)
Answer: First of all, the spelling is Vecsey, not Vescey. But I realize that accuracy always seems to go by the wayside when Vecsey's name comes up.
I didn't talk to Harrington's agent about this latest rumor. I talked to Harrington. I'd rather go straight to the source, and that's Harrington in this case. We've reported stories on Harrington's frustration with playing time for about three or four years now. His agent seems to be the type who pushes management for more, and Al has been caught up in it somewhat. He's been honest about his desire to start, but he's always continued to say he's willing to accept his current role.
As for Vecsey's claim that the beat writer is often beaten to local stories, that's ridiculous. He beats us to rumors and inaccuracies, but not to many facts. He probably would take credit for reporting Isiah Thomas was going to be the next Pacers coach at the end of Larry Bird's final season, but he went out on a limb for that one. The Star takes the more reputable approach of not publishing something unless we can put a source behind it. On the rare occasion we refer to an anonymous source, you can be certain it's a primary source and not some guy off the street.
Rick Carlisle was interviewed for the job after Vecsey reported Thomas would be the next coach, so it was premature. Everyone realized, and we reported, that Thomas was the frontrunner, but it wasn't a done deal. He just happened to guess right on that occasion. Thomas told me later he nearly backed out of the running because it was taking so long for him to unload the CBA.
Vecsey was a close friend of Thomas' at the time because they worked together in broadcasting, and he in fact promoted Isiah for the job with the Pacers. That's not something a journalist should be doing, but then Vecsey hasn't been regarded as a journalist in years.
Sports Illustrated wrote a feature on Pete and his brother George a few years back and told of how Pete had Julius Erving as the best man at his wedding and took a personal loan from the Nets' owner when he bought a house. Those are major ethical violations for a journalist.
Just give me $5 for every incorrect Vecsey report and I'd be retired and living on an island. The Harrington rumor is only the latest example. Last year he had Austin Croshere as part of a three-team trade on the day of the trade deadline. He once had the Pacers trading for Chris Weber. He had the Pacers trading for Dikembe Mutombo when Mutombo was in Atlanta. (The Star, unfortunately, fell for that one.) He once had Derrick McKey going to New Jersey. See the pattern?
You can call this "beating the beat writer" if you like, but I'd call it looking like a fool. And, of the few trades the Pacers have made in recent years, I don't recall him having the break on any of them.
Vecsey is the primary example of the modern approach to tabloid journalism, as is his paper, the New York Post. Accuracy means nothing. It's all about generating a headline that attracts attention. It's worked for him in that he's become more famous and wealthy than most journalists, but you have to sell your soul to do it. It's all about what you're willing to sacrifice, I guess.