If only we'd had the Internet back then

George Karl's beef with Nick Wright reminded me of the time a TV reporter was involved in a toy-store scuffle during the Sonics-Bulls series in '96. Seriously. That happened.

I remain somewhat agnostic when it comes to the overall value of social media.

On the one hand, it has made it easier to sustain some level of connection with a much wider number of people whether it’s old friends from the actual world or new people you’ve met online. On the other hand, these online relationships are no substitute for actual human interaction and conversation.

However, the one area where social-media excels is in the way it provides a forum for random disagreements that are absolutely and utterly entertaining.

This week’s example: Former Sonics coach George Karl taking exception to the way Nick Wright of FOX Sports criticized his coach in a playoff series that was played 28 years ago.

Here’s how it started:

Now, depending on your level of Sonic fandom, you may or may not be familiar with this storyline, but it is generally true. Also, you might remember that Michael Jordan addressed this particular point during “The Last Dance” when he was shown a clip of Payton talking about his effectiveness in defending Jordan that series.

OK. That’s pretty funny, but we’re getting away from the point here, because it’s not about Payton’s effectiveness, this is about Karl using the Internet to respond to criticism about his coaching.

Karl also subsequently responded by comparing Wright to Tom Green, and at first I didn’t think he could possibly be making a reference to Tom Green, the awkward Canadian comedian who was once married to Drew Barrymore, but apparently that is the Tom Green that Karl was referring to. Kendrick Lamar would never …

Karl’s reference to McMillan was a good one. You see, McMillan was limited to just 51 minutes in that six-game series because of his back. Had he been healthy, he would have been assigned to Jordan, who wound up averaging 27 points in the series and being named MVP of the NBA Finals.

"The regret was not having that opportunity to play healthy in the Finals," McMillan said when I talked to him about back in 2003. "A lot of guys spend their whole career and never get at that point. I had the opportunity to get to that point, but I was hurt. It was once in a lifetime, and it was like, 'Why now?' "

There’s a funny part to this story, though. Because during that NBA Finals, Peter Vecsey — a New York Post columnist who also worked in an on-air role with NBC — questioned the severity of McMillan’s back injury and suggested he might be sitting out due to some dissatisfaction with his contract. This didn’t go over well with McMillan specifically and Sonic fans in general, but it wasn’t the thing that Vecsey would make headlines for that series.1

You see, Vecsey was charged with fourth-degree assault after an altercation at Toys ‘R Us near the Alderwood Mall. I’m serious. Vecsey was at the store with two companions. A woman recognized him, pointing him out to her husband, who responded by questioning whether it was really Vecsey and then saying, “Besides, Peter Vecsey is an idiot.”

Well, Vecsey and his friends heard the comment, and according to the police report, came over to confront the fellow who’d said this. That individual said he didn’t want any problems, but a physical altercation ensued in which the victim said he was struck multiple times. The fight was broken up by an electrician who informed the two they were in a toy store. You can read the whole story right here, and while the criminal charge was later dropped, I do like to imagine what that story would look like in the contemporary media environment.

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