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.
Keeping Premier League Games Shouldn’t Be A Hard Call For NBC
“Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans.”
NBC Sports is facing some tough, costly decisions that will define its sports brand for the rest of this decade. A chance to connect with viewers in a changing climate and grow Peacock’s audience as well. However, making the right choice is paramount to not losing to apps like Paramount+ (pun intended).
NBC is currently in the business of negotiating to continue airing the Premier League as their current deal ends after this 2021-2022 season. NASCAR is contracted to NBC (and FOX) through the 2024 season.
NBC’s tentpole sports are the NFL and the Olympics.
Negotiations for the EPL are expected to go down to the wire. Rather than re-up with NBC, the league is meeting with other networks to drive up the price. NBC has to then make a decision if the rights go north of $2 billion.
Should NBC spend that much on a sport that is not played in the United States? It’s not my money, but that sport continues to grow in the US.
If NBC re-ups with the Premier League, will that leave any coins in the cupboard to re-up with NASCAR? Comcast CEO Brian Roberts hinted that there might be some penny pinching as the prices continue to soar. This may have been one of the reasons that NBC did not fight to keep the National Hockey League, whose rights will be with Disney and WarnerMedia through ESPN and TNT, respectively.
“These are really hard calls,” Roberts said. “You don’t always want to prevail, and sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong, but I think the sustainability of sports is a critical part of what our company does well.”
Roberts was speaking virtually at the recent Goldman Sachs 30th Annual Communacopia Conference. He told the audience that between NBC and European network Sky, that Comcast has allocated approximately $20 billion towards these sports properties.
Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh spoke virtually at the Bank of America Securities 2021 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference and echoed that the company is in a good position to make some strong choices in the sports realm.
“The bar is really high for us to pursue outright acquisitions of any material size,” Cavanagh added. “We got a great hand to play with what we have.”
While the European investments involve a partnership with American rival Viacom, the US market seems to have apparent limits.
Last Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway was seen by around 2.19 million people. It was the most-watched motorsports event of the weekend. That same week eight different Premier League matches saw over 1 million viewers. More than half of those matches were on subscription-based Peacock.
Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans. A game of typical soccer fan is used to a sport that is less than two hours long. The investment in a team is one or two games a week.
My connection to the Premier League began before the pandemic. When I cut the cord in late 2017, I purchase Apple TV. Setting it up, it asks you to name your favorite teams. After clicking on the Syracuse Orange and the New Jersey Devils, I recalled that my wife has family based in London, England. They are season ticket holders for Arsenal, and that family redefined the word “die-hard” fans.
I’ve long been a believer that sports allegiances are best when handed down by family. I love hearing stories of people loving the New York Giants because their parents liked them, and they pass it down to their children.
I’ve successfully given my allegiance to the Devils to my young daughters.
By telling Apple TV that I liked Arsenal, I get alerts from three different apps when the “Gunners” are playing. The $4.99 is totally worth it to see Arsenal.
Whenever I told this story, I was amazed to see how many other American sports fans had a Premier League team. Students of mine at Seton Hall University rooted for Tottenham Hotspurs, while an old colleague cheers on Chelsea.
This is not meant to say that NBC should sign the EPL on my account. The key for any US-based soccer fan is that between Bundesliga, Serie A, and other leagues, there will be no shortage of soccer available on both linear television and streaming services.
Besides, Dani Rojas did say that “Football is life.” NBC, originator of the Ted Lasso character, should make keeping its Premier League US connection a priority.
Media Noise – Episode 45
Today, Demetri is joined by Tyler McComas and Russ Heltman. Tyler pops on to talk about the big start to the college football season on TV. Russ talks about Barstool’s upfront presentation and how the business community may not see any problems in working with the brand. Plus, Demetri is optimistic about FOX Sports Radio’s new morning show.
6 Ad Categories Hotter Than Gambling For Sports Radio
“Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life.”
For years sports radio stations pushed sports gambling advertisers to early Saturday and Sunday morning. The 1-800 ads, shouting, and false claims were seedy, and some stations wouldn’t even accept the business at 5 am on Sunday.
Now, with all but ten states ready to go all in on sports gambling, sports radio stations can’t get enough of that green. Demetri Ravanos wrote about the money cannon that sports gambling has become for stations. Well, what if you are in one of those ten states where it isn’t likely to ever be legal like California or Texas? Where is your pot of gold?
Or, let’s face it, the more gambling ads you run, the more risk you take on that the ads will not all work as you cannibalize the audience and chase other listeners away who ARE NOT online gambling service users and never will be. So, what about you? Where is your pot of gold?
Well, let’s go Digging for Gold.
The RAB produces the MRI-Simmons Gold Digger PROSPECTING REPORT for several radio formats. In it, they index sports radio listeners’ habits against an average of 18+ Adult. The Gold Digger report looks at areas where the index is higher than the norm – meaning the sports radio audience is more likely to use the product or service than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. The report, generated in 2020, indicates that sports radio listeners are 106% more likely to have used an online gambling site in the last thirty days. That’s impressive because the report only lists 32 activities or purchases a sports radio listener indexes higher than an average adult. I looked at those 32 higher indexes, and I think we can start looking for some gold.
Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life. The gambling companies who commit significant money to get results will continue advertising and chase the others away. So, the future of sports radio needs to include other cash cows.
If it is evident to online sports gambling services that sports radio stations are a must-buy, who else should feel that way? I looked at the Top 32 and eliminated the media companies. ESPN, MLB/NHL/NFL networks, and others aren’t spending cash on sports radio stations they don’t own in general. But Joseph A Bank clothing, Fidelity, and Hotwire should! Here’s your PICK-6 list I pulled together that’s hotter than sports gambling:
- Sportscard collectors, Dapper Labs, Open Sea- read about Sports NFT $.
- Online brokerage firms-Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Robinhood, Webull, TD Ameritrade
- Golf courses, resorts, equipment, etc.- we play golf at home and vacation
- Hotwire.com, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Carnival Corporation, and Priceline.com- we’ve used Hotwire in the last year.
- FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle-we wired or overnighted $
- Jos. A. Bank, shein.com, macys.com, nordstroms.com- we went to Jos. A. Bank in last three months
The sports card/NFT market is 32% hotter than the sports betting market for sports radio listeners. Everything on the PICK-6 is at least 100% more likely to purchase than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. All listed are at or above indexing strength compared to sports betting. The individual companies I added are industry leaders. Bet on it! Email me for details.
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