Jeff Pearlman

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The worst Hall of Fame speech … ever

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I arrived at the Basketball Hall of Fame here in Springfield tonight expecting to see some interesting stuff at the pre-induction dinner.

This is, after all, admittance weekend for Michael Jordan. For John Stockton. For David Robinson, Jerry Sloan and C. Vivian Stringer. As everyone who has covered this stuff knows, Hall weekends—in all sports—are riveting Who’s Whos of the athletic world. There’s Charles Barkley talking to Bob Lanier! There was Ann Myers and Dolph Schayes! There’s … you get the idea.

Tonight, however, all the prestige … all the glamor … all the stars … all the food (pan seared Chilean Sea Bass with tropical fruit salsa) were surpassed by one breathtaking moment: The worst Hall of Fame speech of all time.

Without question.

The man of the hour was Peter Vecsey, the longtime New York Post basketball columnist who, I must believe, somebody out there likes. Throughout his 32-year career covering hoops, Vecsey boasts an unparalleled record of alienation. This is just a guess, but I’d say 90-95 percent of players dislike him. I’d say 97-99 percent of coaches and owners dislike him. And, among his peers in the media peter_vecseyuh, well … yeah. Not a good track record. The problem, to be blunt, is this: Vecsey has never come off as a particularly nice person. His writing is snide and dismissive; his tone that of a know-it-all third grader. He’s extremely combative, and (this is a guess, admittedly) would rather try and throw punches than engage in an actual intellectual discourse. That Vecsey writes for the Post is appropriate: He and the newspaper deserve one another.

Anyhow, the night was going very well. Speeches were moderately short, the MC—an excellent Ernie Johnson—kept things rolling, Jordan and his gang made their waves. At approximately 8:20 pm, Doug Collins, also inducted as a media member, offered up an absolutely wonderful speech, crying as he asked his wife and children to stand.

And then, Vecsey took the stage.

He seemed to have no notes. No thoughts. No … nothing. He began not by expressing his appreciation, but by rattling off all the shunned players he believed belonged in the Hall. From there, he just … babbled. About this. About that. He seemed to be drunk, but I don’t think he was. The man was just, well, lost. He used language one doesn’t use in a Hall speech. He called out people’s names (“Calvin Murphy! Tiny Archibald!”), and you could literally see the men squirming in their seats. I was sitting about 10 feet from David Stern, who—throughout the ceaseless banter—dismissively shook his head while checking his Blackberry. Jordan, the star of the weekend, walked out. Just left, and never returned.

The best part came, oh, 30 minutes in, when Vecsey took a breather between points. As if on cue, the entire room started to applaud—a very clear, very audible get-the-f^%$-off-the-stage command. Suddenly, music piped in from above—yet another get-the-f^%$-off-the-stage command. Oddly, Vecsey really paid it no mind. It was as if he had a booger dangling from his nose, and everyone in the room was acutely aware of its existence—save for Peter Vecsey. He kept talking until, I believe, his mic was turned off (either that, or he got the clue).

Man, it was sooooooooooo bad. I almost felt sorry for Peter Vecsey.

Almost.

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  • Andrew

    Any chance someone got video of this?

  • http://thatbootlegguy.blogspot.com/ Aaron C.

    Jeff. Dude, you know I love your work. I’m always impressed by the strength of your convictions.

    But, *you* calling out anyone for using a “know it all third grader’s” tone? Gold.

  • Pingback: SLAM ONLINE | » Peter Vescey’s Bitter HOF Speech

  • http://www.19thoughts.blogspot.com Byron

    With all of the hate, how did Vescey get into the Hall of Fame?

    Serious question.

  • jon

    i like the person posting slam’s take of the speech, which just copied this posting. it’s a mobius strip of linkage.

  • Pingback: Peter Vecsey’s hilariously awkward Hall of Fame speech | Sports News Images and Videos

  • Diggsy

    Your right…i remember he used to be on the NBA on NBC pregame show and I thought, even in my young age, “wow…that guy seems like a dick”

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  • http://www.kranepoolsociety.com kranepool society

    I guess as someone who reads Vesscey’s Hoop de Jour column religiously I’m in the minority here as a fan of his. But I must say I’m sadden by this report of his uncouth behavior and lack of class at his induction into the B-Ball HOF

    Why be a dick, just enjoy the moment Pete?

  • Pingback: Peter Vecsey’s hilariously awkward Hall of Fame speech | ReadSports.com - Your primary source for all sporting news

  • Stratos Costalas

    Jeff,

    Although I have never heard of you, I see you are a journalist and that you have written a few books and write for SI. That’s great. Good for you.

    I was actually sitting at Vecsey’s table….so Jeff, let’s get a few things straight.

    First of all, Jordan left before Vecsey’s speech even began. Maybe he didn’t want to hear Vecsey speak, or maybe he just had to go. In any case, they have a history, good or bad, that YOU will never have. When MJ came out of retirement, WHO did HIS AIRNESS grant the first interview to? Take a guess. Every reporter on the planet wanted that scoop. Who got it though.

    That’s right. You know who got it…..well, at least now you do.

    When it was announced that Vecsey was going to receive the award, my feeling was like…..it’s about time. But obviously he has insulted and hurt people that have gotten in the way of him getting in. That point is now mute.

    Despite your “guess” that he is hated by 90 to 95 percent of all players and 97 to 99 percent of all owners and coaches…..he somehow ALWAYS gets the story before anyone else. If he is so despised, how come he has the best sources? If nobody likes this guy, how does he get his info.

    He is unparalleled as an NBA journalist.

    I hear all these “reporters” come up with bogus trade rumors and other silly stories, and I just laugh. And then you have these other clowns that do nothing but kiss ass.

    That’s not what journalism is all about.

    And in regard to his speech, clearly it wasn’t the typical emotional speech that we are all accustomed to hearing and appreciating….especially after hearing Doug Collins speak. I am not even a Doug Collins fan, but have to admit that I was touched by his words.

    Vecsey on the other hand, spoke the same way in which he has acted and written all these years. And there is nothing wrong with that. We have to give Vecsey credit for calling out the committee who has left out so many of all time greats.

    Or how about him bringing up the fact that of the 24 All Stars in that first year when the ABA and NBA were combined, 14 were ABA’ers. A handful of BIG TIME guys, came over to him after the dinner and thanked him for that.

    He also mentioned how this year has been the most rewarding of his career. He finally had the time to do more historical pieces. Who else is doing that?

    WE SHOULD ALL BE THANKFUL for the work of Peter Vecsey, a true guardian of the GAME.

    Take care Jeff, good luck with everything.

  • http://www.cassavaleaf.com/ CassavaLeaf

    that vecsey guy is a class act

  • sedwards

    I thought the worst hall of fame speech ever belonged to Jordan. He was rude, arrogant, and classless. He sounded like an insecure 14-year old. Michael, get over yourself!

  • jabez

    Didn’t see the speech, but have been a Peter Vescey reader and fan from the early PCV days. Didn’t see the speech, but can well imagine that he expounded on his favorite themes of overlooked old-timers, especially from the glorious ABA. Maybe he went a bit overboard, but this article is a flame job so typical of the internet age, and the author is the one who looks bad.

  • http://www.insidehoops.com InsideHoops.com

    I belong in the Hall of Fame.

  • Funny Guy

    Points are not “mute” – that are moot.

  • http://michaelmirasol.com Michael Mirasol

    Here’s the speech. And it is as bad as they say it is.

  • Scott

    The term is “moot” point.

  • CAJI67

    Stratos and Cassava got it right, all the other hacks posting on Pete’s induction need to shut up, and remember Pete is in the Hall of Fame, they need to buy a ticket to get in. Congrats Pete. !!!

  • Alvar Hanso

    My guess is that you would rather engage in intellectual discourse rather than throw punches is because you’re a pussy

  • http://www.nfnkalyan.com nfn

    i guess the point is mute?

  • Vecsey Sucks

    hhhmmmm, I don’t know about Vescey breaking all the stories. For the nets the biggest story of the year would be the Vince Carter trade. Yet go review his articles and just four days before the trade he is saying

    “Want Carter? Gotta give to get! And at this moment, the Nets are engaged in no substantive trade talks.

    Zero!”

    Nothing gets by Vecsey.

  • Jim Elorriaga

    Mr Pearlman

    Mr Vecesy:32 years in the business being unbelivably a pyranns(?)to all of the NBA “GIANT” Millioneers(course College graduzates and about,maybe 1 Oxford Scholar)
    Would allow this man challenge them For their inability to even

    giving autographs because they have not experienced the fact that the alphabet does’nt include X’s and O”s, those letters are
    0 nly in the field house. Myinquiry concerns how can you intimate that He was drunk/drinking and un-hygenitically had a “bugger” hanging from his nose.
    If you have a social problem take it to MR Vecesy and not try to use your pen to attack him! Bea Man!

  • Larry B

    Stratos, how did Vecseys nuts taste?

  • Pat Cosgrove

    Kudos to Pete Vecsey for having the guts to attack the HOF on its biased
    nominating process. I hope Stern and
    his stooges (Mike Breen) were squirming in their seats. It is a disgrace
    that ABA legends Mel Daniels, Roger
    Brown & Slick Leonard can’t get a sniff.

  • H Wingo

    Vecsey remains the best. The rest want to have a sliver of his access, acumen and accuracy. Punks with Blackberries and League Pass wish they could have been him.

  • Drew

    Maybe the HOF thought they were inducting his brother George. At least he can string together a couple of grammatical sentences.

  • Dorkatron3000

    How many of these Vecsey fans are coming from the same ip address?

  • Doug H

    Stratos, I guess your point is “mute”since you have trouble spelling. If you want to arrange a fight between you and me in Central Park, I would like that. Just email me.

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