Jeff Van Gundy brings a lot more to the table than just analysis as a color commentator for ESPN’s basketball games. He brings the funny and he definitely gets you thinking about other issues outside of the foul calls, etc. He’s got opinions – a lot of them. So, when Shaquille O’Neal called out his brother and Head Coach of the Magic, Stan Van Gundy, for being “A nobody, a master of panic, a front-runner,” it was expected Jeff would have an opinion. Never afraid to rip on himself or others close to him, his comments below are well thought-out and also teach a little about what we should expect from the media. Part of me is definitely rooting for Stan in this series coming up with the Lakers because of all the criticisms, although coming off their dream matchup with the Cavs, they’ll be brought back down to earth by the purple and gold. Jeff Van Gundy joined 790 the Ticket and Dan LeBetard to discuss if Shaq’s comments surprised him, how the Van Gundys’ looks plays a part in them being picked on, and how a coach’s reputation can also get him crucified more than others.
Were you surprised when Shaq called out your brother?
“He’s demeaned a lot of people in his time in the NBA, so Stan to me just joined a long list. Phil Jackson was Benedict Arnold, Pat Riley was The Great Pat Riley, Dwyane Wade was the chosen one, Chris Bosh was RuPaul, it goes on and on. That didn’t bother me that much because that’s how he goes about his business, what bothered me, Dan, was that so many of the national media just took it and ran, and repeated it, and perpetuated the smear, and I thought it was unfair. Instead of actually looking at what he’s done, time they just perpetuated a big myth.”
What other factor has played in to Stan being pointed out wrongly?
“Stan, and myself too, we’re not the handsomest fellows, it’s easy to pick on certain people. I don’t think if Stan looked like Mike Brown, looked so good, he looks really good ya know, you didn’t hear him picking on his looks or anything like that. So, it’s a different standard and it’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.”
If Stan was another coach with a reputation, would he still be labeled as uptight?
“It’s all the term you wanna use: passion versus panic… It’s all the words you attach to it, to me, I watch this team play and I don’t see panic. It’s interesting too, his team lost a 14-point lead in Boston in the fourth quarter in game five, and people were very, very critical – that was on the road in Boston. Phil Jackson, last year in the Finals, lost a 25-point second half lead to Boston at home, and yet you didn’t hear the same outcries. So, to me, it’s just really all about, this is why it’s an important job, it’s how the media depicts you. And, that’s why, when I’m doing it now, I try and be candid, but I try and be fair, but unfortunately there’s a lot of national media who don’t see fairness as a part of their job.”