I am glad I did my all interview team the other day on this blog because it drew a response from former Free Press columnist Charlie Vincent.
He mentioned that Sparky Anderson and Herman Moore were good guys to aid to my all-interview team and he is right.
Vincent is one of the most underrated voices in Detroit sports history because Vincent was always forced to play second fiddle to other people at the Free Press. But the thing I liked about him is he wrote opinion pieces. He did not write features disguised as columns. His goal was to send a message whether you agreed with it or not.
Two of the more interesting stories involved Vincent. One time he wrote a descriptive pieces about a black athlete. He wrote what he wore, where he was and what he was eating. The guy happened to be eating a piece of fried chicken and Vincent included that in his column. The editors took it out because they said it was racist.
Vincent argued that he simply was writing what the guy was doing. The editors did not move. I understand that us black folks are sometimes portrayed as shuffling fried chicken eating people who are angry with the world. But I told Vincent he was in the right on this and the entire narrative should be included. It was an early sign of things to come.
The second Vincent story involved former Piston center Oliver Miller. He was a talented guy who could actually play. In 1992 when he played for the Phoenix Suns Miller drove the length of the court against the Pistons, stutter stepped and drove around a guy by dribbling behind his back. The problem with the Big O was he was he weighed more than 300 pounds at 6-foot-9.
In 1994 he came to the Pistons out of shape looking for a new start. Miller was awful and Vincent wrote about how fat and useless he was. That night the Pistons were playing a home game and Miller stopped every journalist in the dressing room and screamed in a high pitched voice.
“Are you Charlie Vincent? Are you Charlie Vincent from the Free Post?”
I asked him what was up, knowing fully well why he was angry with Vincent.
“Ain’t nobody call me fat but my momma. Do you know Charlie Vincent from the Free Post?”
I told him I did.
“Well you tell him I want to see him.”
I am glad Miller did not find Vincent from the Free Post that night. The Big O is currently serving jail time for pistol whipping a man during a bar be que last spring in Maryland. He got into an argument with his girlfriend’s brother and repeatedly beat him in the head with a gun. The man required 11 staples to close the wound and Miller pleaded guilty.
He just began serving his sentence earlier this month and will be out within a year.