San Antonio Sports Talkers Put Foot In Mouth With Iverson Skit

By Richard Oliver
Updated: April 30, 2007

NBA Logo DENVER — The Spurs want to beat Nuggets star Allen Iverson on the court — but they’d rather not see him get beaten up unfairly.

The Spurs have severed ties with San Antonio’s KTKR-AM 760 afternoon talk show co-hosts, Jeff Vexler and Walter Pasacrita, after the airing of a controversial skit Wednesday that included a fake interview with the Denver guard.

In the segment, which ran just before Game 2, an Iverson impersonator responded to questions with answers that sounded alarm bells in the Spurs’ front office and among some staffers at the station, owned by Clear Channel Communications.

Many of the scripted responses in the spoof, which was overseen by afternoon producer Eric Gray, were perceived to be incendiary at best and racist at worst.

“We thought the skit was highly offensive and very inappropriate,” Spurs spokesman Tom James said Saturday. “As a result of that skit, we don’t want them involved in any way, shape or form with Spurs programming.”

With that in mind, head coach Gregg Popovich will no longer make his weekly appearance on KTKR, at least through the postseason.

According to several people who heard the broadcast, including sources close to the station, the fabricated chat included references to Iverson and teammate Carmelo Anthony providing the Spurs something from their own “special stash” before Game 1, which Denver won. The segment also included a mention of Iverson and other players cruising the River Walk looking for sex with “Mexican” women.

Additionally, the bit had the fake Iverson talking about firing a gun into the air to celebrate being picked No. 1 by the Philadelphia 76ers, with the bullet falling to hit a homeless person. That turned out OK, the impersonator said, because the man turned out to be an “illegal alien.”

“I don’t like nothing negative like that,” Iverson, a veteran player who was traded to Denver in December, said in reaction.

That the Spurs acted quickly, he added, “shows what type of class they have as an organization. And for the guys that did that, it shows what type of class they got.”

The mix of radio and race echoes the firestorm generated this month by nationally syndicated radio host Don Imus when he called the Rutgers University women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos.”

CBS initially suspended Imus for two weeks but eventually fired him after outrage kept growing and advertisers kept bolting from his show.

Repeated attempts to reach the local talk-show hosts and officials at KTKR were unsuccessful. Clear Channel representatives also did not return calls.

Joe Pagliarulo, host of WOAI-AM 1200’s morning talk show, said Sunday that he believes Pasacrita, the station’s sports director, will be on the show as scheduled this morning.

The Spurs hold sponsorship and contractual relationships with Clear Channel, and retain influence over the on-air talent associated with the broadcasts.

“Obviously, we are not in the position to dictate control with every media outlet,” the Spurs’ James said. “But in this situation, it’s a bit different. We felt strongly enough about the content of that skit that we deemed action was necessary.”

NOTE: Staff writer Jeanne Jakle contributed to this report.