After flashing a wad of cash at the Canterbury Card Club, millionaire NBA player Allen Iverson couldn't pony up $4 to cover a taxi ride? To say nothing of a tipping the cabbie?

"The meter read $54," said Randy Busch, owner of Southwest Metro Transportation. But driver Nick Spooner got paid only $50. After looking at his records Monday, Spooner told me he picked up Iverson plus two male companions and one female companion at 12:50 a.m. on Wednesday and drove them from the Shakopee card club to downtown Minneapolis' Graves Hotel. The hotel is across the street from Target Center, where the Pistons beat the Timberwolves Wednesday night.

The ride was noisier than most because one of Iverson's male pals kept yelling, I'm from Chicaaaaagoooooo! Spooner sat, listened and "rolled my eyes a lot, chuckled at the immaturity" and gave this guy a nickname: Mouthy or Mouth. "Iverson was telling him, Dude, just chill, because this Mouthy guy was picking on me. You driving me to New Zealand? How come we aren't there yet?"

I'm impressed that the Chicago Mouth knows there is a New Zealand, although he apparently does not know that you cannot get there by driving. There was also complaining because before Spooner started downtown, he drove home a regular customer, about a mile in the opposite direction.

"Iverson kept trying to remind him it took longer because we had to drop this other lady off," Spooner said. "He [Mouth] was mad because the card club security told him to keep his voice down. He was really loud, I guess."

Spooner's supposition is consistent with an eyewitness account of the Iverson party's behavior at the card club. "He was mad and saying they should be providing steak for him because he's [throwing around money]. So we're getting to the hotel [Mouth] is like, How much is it? I pointed to the meter. The Mouthy One threw $100 in my lap and said, Give me $50.

"So I gave him $50. Didn't want to argue with him, he was already hot under the collar," said Spooner, who added, "Yeah, I do it for the tips. It would have been nice to get a little acknowledgment."

So which one of the riders was supposed to pay? "They all came out as a group. Any one of them could have paid me. Just this Mouth guy did, and then nobody stepped in to cover the balance or the tip."

I asked Pistons staffers to ask Iverson for a comment but haven't heard back. Apparently Iverson's already-battered image isn't worth $4.

Missed opportunity

A North High official apparently couldn't get her act together so that students could spend a few minutes with native Minnesotan and grad Ken Rance, screenwriter of "New in Town."

Rance, who proudly identifies himself like this: "Yeah, product of the North Side," told me he sent an e-mail to "an administrator at North and I told her I was interested in doing a lecture. I didn't hear back from her." I also left a message for said administrator, and she has yet to return that call.

The administrator missed an opportunity for North students to see a non-sports career path, as Rance is making it in Hollywood while living in North Carolina with his family. Rance, who can be seen at in my Harry Connick Jr. clip, had no problem arranging a talk about writing for movies and TV with kids at Breck, where he attended middle school.

Rance said he got the idea for "New in Town" after meeting a woman who worked for Kraft and lived in New Ulm. "She told me about some of the challenges she had adjusting to the environment, and that's when I realized 'This is a movie!' And 16 years later, I bring it to the silver screen. It's a blessing. Having a movie made is a Herculean task, whether you like it or not. So I'm very excited."

A interview with Rance says that Gabrielle Union was slated to play the role that went to Renée Zellweger. While he didn't get Union, Rance did get to show Hollywood that a black writer could write about more than hip-hop, drugs and crime, wrote William Douglas in his piece.

Media lightweights

CNN dropped the ball and missed an opportunity to provide some balance to the nauseating Super Bowl-related media glorification of Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr.

I was thrilled when media heavyweight Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post media columnist who hosts CNN's "Reliable Sources," teased his Sunday interview with Fitz Jr.'s dad, Larry Fitzgerald Sr., Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder sport editor and member of the media covering the Super Bowl. FINALLY somebody to hold those rather large Fitzgerald feet to the fire for Jr.'s domestic matters and his dad passing it off as a woman trying to get more of his son's money.

Kurtz never went there. Why no howitzer, Kurtz? "I didn't know anything about the restraining order [that ex-girlfriend Angela Nazario sought against Jr.]," said Kurtz via e-mail Monday. "We're a media show, and the point of having Larry Sr. on was to ask about the awkwardness of his role as both sportswriter and father of a Super Bowl player, not to get into his son's domestic problems. But had I known about it, I would have raised it."

Nobody's perfect, but Kurtz usually comes close. Too many of my media idols knew and wouldn't raise the question.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or