Jeff Van Gundy is choosing brethren over Bristol.
Volleying from forceful to furious, the former Knicks coach lashed out at the network that employs him, livid that ESPN would publish a story that quotes LaVar Ball saying Luke Walton has lost the Lakers.
The ESPN NBA analyst joined the ranks of coaches who have blistered ESPN with attacks for giving the circus that is LaVar Ball a platform, saying coaches now have every reason to boycott ESPN.
“You guys want the cheap shots,” Van Gundy said on Sirius XM NBA Radio on Monday. “You want the hits. You want these — like you said, clicks, whatever that means.
“… It is part of the business, and it’s also a reason why this does lack journalistic integrity. It is a reason for coaches to unite and say, ‘No no, forget it, if we have to take this, then why are we giving of our time?’ It’s not like they’re going to violate any rule if they don’t participate with ESPN.”
Mavericks coach and president of the coaches’ association Rick Carlisle threatened Sunday that coaches could restrict ESPN access after it followed Ball to Lithuania, where he said, “You can see [the Lakers are] not playing for Luke no more.” Later, the coaches’ association called ESPN’s decision to publish the thoughts of Lonzo Ball’s father “regrettable and troubling,” saying it was a “salacious one-sided story lacking journalistic integrity.” The criticism has also come from within, with college basketball personality Dick Vitale blasting his own company. According to Amico Hoops, some NBA teams have asked their media relations teams to cut off reporters who interview Ball.
Jeff’s brother, Stan, will be punishing ESPN when the network comes to Detroit to cover his Pistons for their Jan. 19 game against the Wizards. Stan told reporters on Monday night he would not meet individually with the network’s talent, as has become the standard.
“I’m not denying them access,” Stan Van Gundy said, via the Detroit Press.
“I’m not kicking them out of press conferences. They want extra stuff from us and they’re going to treat an NBA coach with that little respect? Then I’m going to choose not to give them extra access.”
Despite Jeff being on the other end of that — as part of ESPN’s top commenting crew — he feels strongly his employers are distorting their coverage to meet Ball’s whim.
“There was no attempt in that article to present both sides,” Van Gundy railed of the Jeff Goodman story. “It didn’t state Lonzo Ball’s stats, I don’t believe. It didn’t talk about, like, the nine-game losing streak having anything to do with injuries.”
Van Gundy’s grievances with the entire journalism industry were numerous. He stated that all parents of struggling players blame coaches, but only one was given the microphone.
“There’s always been conflict, inherent conflict between players and coaches,” said Van Gundy, who was Knicks head coach from 1995 to 2002. “This one has been exacerbated by what you know to be true, which is a parent’s unhappiness with a coach whenever a player struggles, you know that’s true because they’re not going to blame their kid, they’re just going to blame the coach. Now you have the coach having to answer because it’s been publicly published. You have the kid having to answer publicly. You have a team that has to answer publicly.
“… Instead of focusing in on the real issues, Jeff Goodman and ESPN got what they wanted. They started a little fire and now everyone’s talking about it.”
Branching out, Van Gundy launched a broader attack on the journalism industry while citing another contentious ESPN story — its bombshell Patriots account — saying using anonymous sources is “a joke.”
“The whole process is wrong when you write an article that doesn’t have one attributable quote — like the Patriots story,” said Van Gundy, who’s been with ESPN since 2007. “Not one.”