The sports world already knows that former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy is at war with ESPN. Is his brother, ESPN announcer Jeff Van Gundy, also at war with the Worldwide Leader?
Earlier this month, we broke the story that NBA commissioner David Stern blocked ESPN’s efforts to hire Stan. As we reported, Stan Van Gundy had a handshake deal for him to join NBA Countdown, but David Stern stepped in and blocked the move. (Jalen Rose eventually got the job.) A few hours after our report, Stan Van Gundy blasted ESPN on South Florida radio.
“No one at ESPN will tell us what happened. Certainly the NBA office isn’t going to tell us what happened. One of the quotes from ESPN in there – we had discussions, but couldn’t agree on a role … as is usual, that’s a bunch of BS from ESPN.
Stan later spoke to the Orlando Sentinel, and all but confirmed that it was David Stern who put the kibosh on the hire. Jeff Van Gundy spoke to USA Today Sports recently and also confirmed the story, and said this about ESPN:
“While this is an organization that’s treated me great, it raises questions about what these so-called partnerships mean. You have to realize as a fan, you’re not getting the whole truth.”
That’s an unprecedented shot at your employer. In the 2nd largest circulation paper in the country! Sources close to Jeff Van Gundy said after Stan Van Gundy was kicked to the curb, Jeff had a few contentious phone calls with ESPN NBA suits. Sources say he made it clear how angry he was with the network, and how bush league it was for them to let David Stern push them around. Privately, ESPN feared they might lose their No. 1 NBA analyst.
Sources say that several weeks ago, Jeff and his brother went to Bristol, and both verbally agreed to deals – Jeff to a new, multi-year broadcasting agreement, and Stan to joining NBA Countdown. Neither signed anything. Then ESPN pulled the rug out from under Stan, obviously angering Jeff. Could he have blown off ESPN less than a month before the season, and sought an announcing gig with NBA TV or TNT? It is unclear if Jeff ever seriously considered either option before inking his multi-year deal a week ago.
That’s a pretty ballsy move to sign a new multi-year deal and come out days later blasting your company. [image via Cork Gaines]