Stan Van Gundy Not Buying That LeBron ‘Shrunk’ In 4th Quarters, Yet Still Feels James and Heat Shouldn’t ‘Cry’ Under Intense ScrutinyJune 21, 2011 – 5:45 am by Steven Cuce
Stan Van Gundy is no stranger to having his opinions make the headlines in the NBA. Whether he is calling out Shaq for ‘flopping,’ or being critical of NBA officials targeting Dwight Howard, Van Gundy has never been afraid to tell it like it is. He knows a thing or two about coaching professional basketball in the state of Florida, currently coaching the Orlando Magic and being a former head coach of the Miami Heat. The Miami Heat have been the punching bag for the media after being upset by the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals and Dan LeBatard wanted Van Gundy’s take on a slew of topics surrounding LeBron James and the Heat. In the following interview Van Gundy spoke of his respect for the Miami Heat, but also didn’t sound too empathetic about the Magic’s rival losing the NBA Finals either.
Stan Van Gundy joined 790 the Ticket in Miami on The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz to talk about how he was shocked that the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Finals, LeBron James not being able to get to the free throw line at ease during the series, whether or not he feels the media covers LeBron James fairly, feeling empathy for LeBron James and not believing that LeBron James shrinks in the 4th quarter of playoff basketball games.
How surprised were you by the Miami Heat being unable to win the NBA Championship against the Dallas Mavericks?
“I was surprised. Nothing shocks me and Dallas played extremely well, but I was surprised. I thought Miami would win that series. I thought they would win quite honestly relatively easy in five or six games. I thought they were the most talented team anyway. I thought they were playing so well going in having only lost three games running through the Eastern Conference. I thought they would win it, but it didn’t work out that way. I thought Dallas played extremely well.”
Can you explain how LeBron James could not get to the free throw line? I cannot understand it. Can you?
“Well look and I told you this at one point you inquired during the series. I didn’t watch a lot of it live. I watched parts of it here and there. I did watch all of game six. I would say this. I would say first of all I think Dallas made a very, very, concerted effort, not just on LeBron [James], but all of them to keep the ball out of the paint. I think a lot of people, us included, have sort of adopted the theory that you almost rather have LeBron be a scorer than a guy creating and having a lot of assists. Dallas took the opposite of that. When he posted up they doubled teamed him almost immediately in the low post. They helped very, very, early on him. They made him a passer and I thought he made several great passes, but I thought they did a great job of that. I also think the fact that Dallas doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and turn the ball over kept the Heat from getting out in transition which is a place where he gets to the line a lot. I thought Dallas’s zone I thought also helped them. I thought they did do a lot and had a lot to do with that. Now I’d still say I was surprised he didn’t have say five or six attempts a game at least, but I thought a lot of it was Dallas.”
Has LeBron James been covered fairly by the media?
“That’s an interesting question. He’s been covered in great volume, which generally if you get that kind of attention will lead to some exaggeration at times both ways. Maybe at times they are making you greater than you are and at times trying to say that you’re not as good as you really are, but I think the biggest things about LeBron’s coverage and the Heat’s coverage in general is just in extreme volume. There’s probably not a team, certainly not a team in our sport that has generated that kind of interest in a long, long, time and maybe not in any sport.”
At any point did you find yourself feeling bad for LeBron James?
“No I can’t say that. Look I’m not the most empathetic person in the world anyway, but look first of all it’s sports. The thing that would make me feel bad for somebody was some personal issue. I’m not going to feel bad that you are struggling on a basketball court because you only get to within two wins of a championship. Come on there was nothing to feel sorry for. I got a little tired I’ll admit of the whole everybody hates us routine. I thought first of all it’s not true. Okay it’s the same as the Yankees type of thing. There’s just a lot of people interested, so there may be more people who dislike you. There are also more people that like you. There’s a great deal of interest. Second of all they brought it on…LeBron more than anybody. They brought all that scrutiny and attention on yourself. You went out seeking it then don’t cry in the face of it. That to me got to be a very tiresome story line.”
Are you buying the theory that LeBron James shrunk in the 4th quarter? Did he shrink up? Did you ever coach players scared in big moments?
“First of all no I really haven’t [coached players scared in big moments]. I think people bring that up usually anecdotally. They’ll think of one time or two times. Look even this year we saw LeBron James have great 4th quarters in the Boston series and the Chicago series. I certainly experienced it first hand when we played them back in the Eastern Conference Finals. He was tremendous against us. He had one huge shot that really probably kept the series from being a sweep. No I don’t buy it at all. I certainly don’t think there is any fear there. Now you can go back and criticize his play in the 4th quarters. I think that’s fair, but I don’t think it’s because he’s afraid of the moment or anything like that. He’s had too many good moments in those times for me to believe that.”