The internet was buzzing with speculation yesterday. Appropriate, since all of the guesses stem from something Allen Iverson said as a guest on the All the Smoke podcast hosted by Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.
When an athlete – past or present – cryptically says he hates a member of the media, the internet’s first reaction is usually something along the lines of “Oh, well of course he’s talking about Skip Bayless.”
Iverson put that speculation to bed right away, telling Stephen Jackson “I got love for Skip. I know people think it’s Skip. It’s not you.”
So who is Allen Iverson talking about? I’m going to examine the theories and the evidence. We’ll review the likely suspects, the not so likely suspects, and I may even work in some wild speculation.
Welcome to CSI:BSM!
SUSPECT 1: JASON WHITLOCK
Allen Iverson was no fan of authority and really enjoyed being rich. So, of course Jason Whitlock is no fan of his. The evidence against Whitlock though isn’t broad. It is specific. Specifically, a very harsh criticism of Iverson’s retirement in 2009.
And then this clip from Speak For Yourself back in 2016 when it was still a Whitlock/Colin Cowherd collaboration.
Sportswriter and best-selling author Jeff Pearlman seems to think Whitlock is the culprit here. He also seems to think Iverson’s feelings are correct.
Even though they are clear, as of the writing of this column (Thursday night), Whitlock is yet to address his specific feelings on Iverson. We cannot eliminate him as a suspect until there is a fervent denial.
Whitlock responded not with a tweet, but with a full column at Outkick.com. Equally of note, according to this tweet from the site’s account either Jason Whitlock or Clay Travis call Jason Whitlock “Big Sexy.”
UPDATE TO UPDATE:
Barrett Sports Media regrets this error made as a result of sloppy reporting. Not only did Whitlock not write the article in the tweet linked above, evidence would suggest that it is Joe Kinsey that refers to Mr. Whitlock as “Big Sexy”, not Mr. Whitlock himself nor Mr. Travis.
SUSPECT 2: DAN LE BATARD
I don’t have the concrete evidence against Le Batard that I do against Whitlock. Iverson was last on Le Batard’s show in 2014. That is long before it was the simulcast monster it is now. Also, Le Batard addressed speculation he might be the person Iverson hates with a tweet on Thursday.
Still, Le Batard can’t be entirely dismissed. The evidence is entirely circumstantial, but if Allen Iverson is telling someone in the sports media that he hates “you and your daddy,” that implies said daddy is also famous.
I find it hard to believe anyone hated Craig Sager and even harder to believe Allen Iverson knows who Craig Sager Jr. is. They’re out. Did Cris Collinsworth ever cross Allen Iverson? Probably not, and even still, I would guess that Jac Collinsworth is at about the same point on Iverson’s radar that Craig Sager Jr. is.
It feels like Le Batard is a really strong candidate here. Maybe Dan doesn’t know what he did wrong and that is why he says he doesn’t have beef with AI. But man, it is so hard not to think Papí could be involved somehow.
SUSPECT 3: STEPHEN A. SMITH
We have to lay out all of the possible suspects here, but let me be clear. I don’t think it is Stephen A. Smith. The two were close when Iverson was with the 76ers and Smith was with the Philadelphia Inquirer. Then they had a very public falling out after Smith wrote about Iverson’s struggles in his personal life.
Smith addressed this on an episode of Suspect #2’s South Beach Sessions podcast in April. He said that when he heard Iverson had told some mutual friends that if he saw Smith again, he’d kill him, Stephen A. Smith got on a plane to Miami and went to find Iverson. Smith was ready for a fight, but according to him, the two ended up talking and squashing their beef.
I’m not going to totally eliminate Smith though because of something else he talked about on that podcast. Smith mentioned that he never really liked his father and they always had a strained relationship.
Is it possible that since April Iverson and Smith have had another falling out? Is it possible that things between them were never as copasetic as Smith assumed? If that is the case, throwing in a crack about “your daddy” could have been a very personal shot at Smith.
SUSPECT 4: PAUL PIERCE
Iverson was an unstoppable force for the 76ers while Pierce was playing the immovable object for the division rival Celtics. There was definitely bad blood there. Pierce was also not overly popular with players that were not his teammates.
Also, there is this.
I mean, look at the guy’s name. He’s an NBA expert!
SUSPECT 5: SPIKE ESKIN
Okay, hear me out.
Spike runs 94WIP in Philly. He also hosts the 76ers podcast Rights to Ricky Sanchez. Does he talk a lot about Iverson? Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t listen to the podcast with any regularity.
Iverson was on the last 76ers team to make it to the NBA Finals though and his career did take quite the downturn when he left Philadelphia, so it isn’t outside of the realm of possibility.
Spike’s dad is longtime Philly radio host Howard Eskin. Howard has never been shy about voicing his opinion or about calling out the home team.
This one feels possible, but because it is so Philly-specific, it isn’t as fun. Also, it should be noted that AI thanked Howard Eskin at his jersey retirement ceremony in Philadelphia. If it is Spike, the offense would have to be off the charts. Look at this picture.
It doesn’t seem like these two guys are capable of hating each other.
I am merely an investigator. It is up to you, the jury to determine who is guilty here. Also, you should all know Iverson is my ALL-TIME favorite player, so maybe I am the wrong person to lead this investigation.
This may be a mystery that isn’t solved until Iverson himself solves it. Right now, the only thing we know for sure is that Skip Bayless is innocent.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.