Sheridan v. Vecsey has been settled out of court

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NEW YORK — The libel lawsuit I filed against Peter Vecsey and the New York Post has been settled out of court to the mutual satisfaction of all parties. An editor’s note appeared at the bottom of Vecsey’s column in last Friday’s print editions of the New York Post, and that editor’s note also appears online at the bottom of the original Vecsey column — “Knicks Don’t Have Best Shot at ‘Melo” —  that I took issue with.

I will have no further comment on the settlement, and I have nothing negative to say about Mr. Vecsey.

But I do have a few things I want to say for the record.

We’ll start with a question: At what cost would you defend your reputation?

ESPN did not want me to file my lawsuit against Mr. Vecsey and the Post, which they made clear to me after I objected to the strong words he used in criticizing my well-sourced story from Dec. 14, 2010 that Carmelo Anthony, if he was traded, would only sign a maximum contract extension with the New York Knicks. I never wavered from that story, and it was dead-on.

Several top editors at ESPN knew who my primary source was, and they, too, were displeased with the tone of Mr. Vecsey’s column. But they told me they were on the other side of libel law, they were busy defending themselves against several time-consuming and costly libel suits, and they could not be on both sides of the fence.

Here’s what I wrote to the managing editor of ESPN.com in an e-mail: “As you understand from our conversationsI feel I must protect my reputation as a journalist. I have spent 24 years building it, and if I am to maintain my professional integrity, I must defend myself.”

So I rocked the boat at ESPN, my contract subsequently ended, and I no longer work there.

And that’s fine with me, because I spent six years there, five of which were wonderful and the last of which was not. And when you are unhappy in your job, it is best to move along. That is also what I needed to do in 2005 after 18 years at the Associated Press.

So moving along is what I am doing, running a Web site with high-quality content from some of the most distinguished veteran writers in the business (between myself, Mark Heisler, Jan Hubbard, Chris Bernucca and Chris Perkins, we have nearly 100 combined years of journalism experience), and I am doing so with my dignity and my principles intact.

When I decided to rock the boat, for me it was a question of whether the reputation of the name “Sheridan” was more important to me than the name “ESPN.” Like Mr. Vecsey, I am a second-generation journalist. And as much as I wanted to protect my own name, I also wanted to protect the legacy of my dad, who spent 30 years at The New York Times and was one of the most highly respected newsmen to grace the third floor of the old Times building on West 43rd Street.

When I first filed my complaint, I was covering the NBA labor negotiations. The day after the news broke, commissioner David Stern was holding a news conference and asked me from the podium: “Did you really sue Peter Vecsey?” I told the commissioner it was not the time or place to discuss the issue (it was being broadcast live on NBA-TV), but we had a conversation about it later, and I explained to Stern how I believed a journalistic line had been crossed.

I wish ESPN  had my back on this, but they chose not to.

I chose to stand up for my principles anyway, come what may.

It was a decision that has impacted my family and my journalistic career, and I do not regret it one iota. Sometimes, you have to stand up and defend your integrity and your reputation. So I will move forward in my career without looking back. The aim here is to build a better basketball Web site, and if this is your first time visiting, have a look around. Lots of talent here, not a lot of schlock.

Thanks to all those who have been supportive.

 

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Comments

  1. Hello! I’ve been following your web site for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Huffman
    Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the fantastic job!

  2. for some reason, i hadn’t come across your site until now.
    missed your articles on ESPN and was actually wondering what was going on.
    i thought you were on a long vacation or something.
    really looking forward to frequenting this site. the quality at espn basketball has been tanking!

  3. Love the website !

  4. Jack Knickolson says:

    It takes a lot of ‘cojones’ to stand up alone like you did.

    My most profound admiration.

    Cheers

  5. Marc Wagoner says:

    I didn’t know why you left ESPN at all, but to be honest, I always felt that you were the best basketball columnist there, so when you left, I followed. I think this website is great for basketball coverage that doesn’t seem as if it’s written with an agenda. I appreciate that. So I’m glad you’re doing your stuff. Keep it up!

  6. Larry Fleisher says:

    Just saw this, figured I’d comment and use this opportunity to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed your site, even though I’ve watched the NBA less since I stopped covering it.

  7. Mike Nadel says:

    Hey Chris … glad you feel you finally got justice here. You are one of the best reporters and hardest workers in the biz, and I wish you nothing but the best with this site. Oh, and sorry I sold those Cleveland irons instead of giving them to you.

  8. FrankieB says:

    I have no dog in this fight and I respect both columnists. I have read Peter Vecsey for over 30 years. I read the offending column and while I would be p***** too if it were my name, I don’t think you can call it libel. It might be false, denigrating, offensive, sophomoric, etc — but not libel. And we don’t know despite what happened subsequently in the Melo trade whether or not the initial comments on Melo would have been true or not. There’s no way to tell.

    Good luck on your website.

  9. Seth Rinoza says:

    We got your back Chris.

    Just bookmarked your page.

  10. Chris,

    Really rooting for you and your new venture. You made an honorable decision. Even if you ever do return to the MSM, I think you will have shown the world what “Sheridan” means.

  11. Awesome, Chris. Congratulations on putting this behind you and taking the high road. The site has been superb since launch, and I look forward to continued reading.

  12. Kevin Matthews says:

    It’s about time Peter Vecsey was taken to task for that kind of thing. Good on you.

  13. Well done, Chris.

  14. Respect.
    You just moved up to my first website to check in the morning.

  15. Damon Cherico says:

    Congrats to you for having the courage to stand up for what is right and for your good name. I went back to the Vescey article and WOW was he not only wrong in what he said about your article but he was WRONG about the whole Carmelo deal as well. Way off. Bet he wishes that article was forgotten in long-yellowed newspapers instead of having a permanent place on the internet. Eternal shame on you, Mr Vescey!

  16. couldn’t be prouder of you than i am today.

    thanks christopher.

    dad

  17. You made the right choice to defend your name and integrity. Keep up the great work, Chris! Your coverage of USA basketball while at ESPN was some of the best basketball reporting I have ever read.

  18. Mike Jay says:

    Chris,

    I also didn’t know why you left ESPN. I applaud you for fighting to protect your name and your father’s legacy. I’ve been in your position and have NEVER hesitated to fight for my name and integrity. It means that much to me. I love the website as well as your questioning Stern about his killing of the Paul to Lakers trade. Congrats and keep up the great work!!!!

    Mike

  19. Mike Waters says:

    Chris,

    When Vecsey used the phrase “Sheridan’s invented informants” he was suggesting that you had fabricated your information. Such a suggestion is incredibly damaging to a reporter’s reputation.

    Good for you for standing up for yourself.

  20. Hi Chris,

    I just read this via twitter and never knew the reason you left ESPN. I just wanted to say how much respect I have for not only your work but also your integrity. Although I have never read a word the man has written I have always found Mr. Vecsey obnoxiously arrogant from his days on NBC and while I agree that the ever changing opinions on these stories got annoying to read I also understand that you can only report what information is given to you and that reporters are fed information that isn’t accurate all the time. This paticular situation is especially funny that you were the one that he called out and you were right! I’m sure at the time very little was funny to you and I only hope that you are happy with your new direction. Keep up the great work and I’m sure your dad is/would be very proud.

  21. My one complaint about this site – I don’t know why, but it simply kills my computer. I blame the heavy load of video advertisements but maybe it’ll get better when you get a better server or whatnot. it’s basically ythe only basketball site out there that does this other than Hoopspeak, which only does it a little when stating up.

    • Thanks, Ignarus, for letting me know about this. By chance, is there an advertisement for tickets on the right sidebar showing whenever it loads uber slow for you? It used to be advertising NCAA, but before that, it was advertising tickets to the Knicks, Bulls, etc.

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  1. [...] Sheridan v. Vecsey libel lawsuit settled out of court Never knew this went down. Good for him. VT Reply With Quote [...]

  2. [...] The lawsuit NBA writer Chris Sheridan filed against Peter Vecsey of the New York Post has been settled. Skip to Comments Tweet Email Older » Doc Rivers coach players most want to play [...]

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