If you grew up like me, Sunday afternoons after church were spent watching the NBA on NBC.
The catchy theme song, the Chicago Bulls vs. the Portland Blazers, Michael Jordan vs. The Knicks, Jeff Van Gundy holding on for dear life to Alonzo Mourning’s calf and Dennis Rodman’s array of hair colors were all staples of the NBA on NBC’s broadcast.
It was great!
Marv Albert, Matt Guokas, Bob Costas, Hannah Storm, Lewis Johnson and ‘The Czar’ Mike Fratello were household names that felt like family coming over for Sunday dinner.
Another name from that 90s/2000s NBA on NBC-era of programming that had a lasting effect was Peter Vecsey.
Vecsey, a long-time New York Post columnist is considered by many to be one of the first NBA insiders. Inducted into the 2009 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Vecsey’s personality was on full display on the NBA on NBC as a sideline reporter and in-studio analyst on the Prudential Halftime report.
Check out Peter Vecsey and a young Kobe Bryant
In a Q&A on Scoop B Radio, Vecsey, talked with me about his craft, how he got started and why he became a journalist.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: When did you know that you wanted to be a journalist?
Peter Vecsey: Not for a long time. My dad got me job at the Daily News early on working the baseball season in my junior year of high school. It was five days a week for the whole baseball season, so I would go after class and I would work until 11:00. We were only allowed to work from 3-11, but I never thought about taking it further than that. I just knew it was a good job and I was making good money and my family didn’t have too much money at that time, so it was a great thing. I went from stealing 25 cent sandwiches from the cafeteria, to buying for my friends, so it was a great job. I was making $100 a week, some people might laugh at that, but that was huge back then. It was 1960. My parents were both in the business, my brother was working for Newsday at the time and he went to Hofstra too. But he was the black sheep of the family because he graduated. I guess being a journalist for me was meant to be because I didn’t like school at all. So while I was at Hofstra, I worked for the newspaper and I remember Mike Dyer, who was the sports editor at the time and I would write, like columns because I always had an opinion on things and he would tell me that wasn’t the way I was supposed to write for the paper. He wanted me to write stories and there was a conflict with editors from the beginning and it’s still that way today.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Yeah but that’s what makes you, yourself and that’s a good thing. I think a lot of times in journalism, people are scared to go against the grain because they don’t want to alienate the people that they cover.
Peter Vecsey: Or they’re afraid to alienate the people that they are working for and I’ve done both. I’ve lost some very key jobs by being stupid and not following orders, because I wanted to do things my way and I’m still struggling with that to this day. I’m trying to write my book and my editors want things one way and I disagree because I know how I want things to look so I say let’s not write the book then, forget it. To the ends I’ve lost millions of dollars being this way but I’ve done okay too so here we are.