The story of Stan Van Gundy's almost-employment with ESPN has been one of the most remarkable sports media stories flying under the radar this year. Initial reports from TBL were that Stan Van was ready to join ESPN's NBA Countdown until NBA Emperor David Stern stepped in and put the kibosh on his hiring because of SVG's outspokenness criticizing Stern and the association. That led to SVG blasting ESPN for lying about pulling their offer and another uneasy situation with a league pulling the strings on what their network partners can and can't do.
Caught in the middle is ESPN's top NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy, who as you may know also happens to be Stan's brother. What would JVG have to say about the NBA, the league he covers, blocking the move of his brother to the network he works for? As you'd expect, JVG didn't pull any punches in speaking with USA Today about his shock over what happened and the impact it has on his own job in telling the truth when covering the NBA...
"And then something changed. There's certainly circumstantial evidence that something from the outside -- presumably the NBA -- changed (ESPN's) thinking. ... I was happy when they came to an agreement and shocked when they pulled their offer."
"As a broadcaster of the NBA, it give you pause... How forthcoming can you be? You don't want your honesty to cost you a chance at employment.This is a shot across the bow."
"This is an organization that's treated me great. But this raises interesting questions about what a (league-network) partnership means. You have to realize, as a fan, you're not getting the whole truth. ... It seems like there are certain people in each sport that (TV) can't criticize, or you can't criticize the league itself. That's what impressed me when (ESPN's) Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden criticized the NFL over replacement refs. That (Commissioner) Roger Goodell didn't throw a hissy fit at ESPN was impressive."
This needs to be a bigger story than it is. A sports league hasn't acted this heavy-handed in dictating what their network partner did since the NFL shut down Playmakers. It's simply ridiculous for David Stern to be able to handpick who covers his sport for ESPN and for ESPN to willfully play along with this charade saying it was their decision alone. But hey, if Stern gets to play kingmaker and decide which players get traded where, deciding broadcasters is a drop in the bucket.
Clearly, somebody is not telling the truth, and I have little reason to believe Stan Van Gundy would make up a story about all this nonsense.
Jeff Van Gundy is one of the best analysts around because of his brutal honesty and willingness to criticize when warranted. I have no doubt Stan Van Gundy would have been excellent as an NBA analyst as wel. If that outspokenness is taken away for fear of David Stern's shadowy figure lurking in the bowels of any NBA arena, it hurts everyone involved. It hurts JVG, it hurts the legitimacy of the network, and it hurts fans because they aren't getting the full truth.
If the analyst for the NBA Finals has pause in being forthcoming with his own analysis, how can any viewer fully trust ESPN's NBA coverage or the league itself? How can we be sure the league is being covered in an open and honest way?
One thing is clear - the best friend any NBA conspiracy theorist had claiming the league and everything in it is fixed is David Stern himself.
Conspiracy theories are great until you spend a solid 8 seconds thinking about them. The Hornets conspiracy sounds plausible until you realize that it hinges on Tom Benson plunking down nine figures for a team in a market that no one is sure can even support an NBA team, all on the promise of acquiring a guy that projects to be the next Marcus Camby. But that's beside the point. I totally beleivevtat this is what happened, and the NBA has nothing to hide. Because ultimately, it doesn't matter. Coaches and draft picks? Stern influencing those things would hurt the integrity of the game. Blocking SVG from working at ESPN has absolutely nothing to do with the product on the floor.
I don't understand , either you believe my conspiracy theory or not? Second, if you do think that the NBA has nothing to hide, I don't understand. If you do not believe that blocking SVG from being involved with the NBA does not hurt the integrity of the game you are wrong. whenever, someone blocks someone else from working for no good reason lacks a whole lot of integrity. Not allowing African Americans to play baseball hurt the integrity of the game, the silly statement by Al Campanis hurt the integrity of the game. When one person has such total control, it is not good for the integrityof the game. To be so petty to not let this man provide insights on a pre game show is pure nonsense. What will be next, telling owners whom they can and cannot hire. If you think that crap he pulled with the Lakers and Hornets last year was in the best interest of basketball, your nuts. That was in the best interest of the owners, as they owned the team. How can you even come close to being unbiased in a transaction that potentially hurts your pocketbook!. I think Stern has been good for the league in his early days. However, his tenure over the league during the past five years has been a joke. The term Commissioner is a pure Joke, How can you be unbiased and be fair when it is the owners who pay his salary. Same with Goodell, he is the paid Godfather for the owners as well.
@Southern_Dandy Southern Dandy I have some swamp land in Iraq to sell...u interested???
Don't be so asleep at the wheel SouthernDandy. Next , David the Kingmaker will veto hiring of coaches! Do you really think New Orleans got lucky enough to get the Number 1 Pick! Come on, Benson says hell buy that franchise from the LEAGUE for $350mm and he can't have the first pick......Please, if you believe that NO got lucky to get that pick, I have some swamp land in Florida to sell you.
Isn't this all a little overblown? The NBA is not Congress or the Pentagon, and ESPN is not CNN. So this idea that by smacking down SVG, we fans are somehow being denied "the whole truth" completely overestimates the importance of the league, the network and the man.
ESPN and the NBA are partners in an entertainment venture. They work together to produce NBA broadcasts, of which Countdown is a component. So the league is perfectly within their right to say, "We don't want this guy to be a part of the show."
@Southern_Dandy Well said too much made of these sports leagues
Too much made of these leagues. Well, One is the only industry exempted from ANTI TRUST Laws and the monies from all leagues is well into the $50 Billion number when taken into consideration college sports and soccer, etc. This is Big business at its best. Let us not forget also, the NFL was found guilty of putting a league(WFL) out of business by its collusion with TV to not air WFL games or provide contracts. Now they were found guiltyof Anti Trust provisions, but was only fined 1dollar!
@Southern_Dandy So you're saying that it's ok for a sports league to be rigged because it's an entertainment venture? Sports are only fun if the competition is fair and not rigged. As soon as it becomes rigged like WWE, I immediately lose interest and want nothing to do with it. I refuse to watch a fixed sport, and I refuse to watch a sport with a shady and dishonest commissioner who pulls strings that should not be pulled in order to limit the freedom of the teams (rigged CP3 trade, anyone?) and the networks that broadcast the sport.
@SpringRubber Where did I say anything about rigging games? Whether or not SVG works for ESPN has nothing to do with the quality of competition. This isn't like a team revoking the press pass of a beat reporter they don't like. ESPN is NOT an independent news outlet. They are partners with the NBA in the production of a TV show. And the NBA didn't want Van Gundy as a part of that show.
Reason number 10,000,000,000,000 why I quit watching the NBA. Flat out disgusting if this report is true, which it likely is.