Van Gundy Brothers Speak Against NBA Censorship

Ex-NBA coaches take aim at the NBA.

Robert Whiteby Robert White

Appearing on a Grantland podcast earlier this week former NBA head coaches, and brothers, Stan and Jeff Van Gundy had some pretty harsh things to say about NBA commissioner David Stern and his media expectations.

In a fascinating interview speaking to Dan LeBatard of the Miami Herald and Jon Sciambi of ESPN in the Grantland podcast, the Van Gundys answer questions covering a range of topics which include their role with sports media, the Dwight Howard v Stan issue, and also the NBA censorship- a topic that has not received enough attention in recent years.

To say that either has a good relationship with NBA commissioner David Stern would be an overstatement.

Stan, who was released as head coach of the Orlando Magic in May in part because of his run in within star player Dwight Howard, brought up the league’s role in the increased level of media infiltration into the NBA world.

“David Stern demands that we are accessible beyond belief, but then will fine us or bring criticism when we step out of line,” said Stan Van Gundy.

“That has pissed me off to no end. Not with the media, but with the league. That you’re going to make me see the media every single day at least once. On a game day, after my walkthrough, then I got to do a radio show for the team, then I got to meet with the media before the game, then I got to meet with the media after the game. You’re going to go through this all year, but if you at any time step out of line then we’re going to slap $35,000 on you,” said Van Gundy referring to the hefty fines the NBA throws at players and coaches when they say something that tarnishes the image of the league.

Van Gundy said that Stern exempt from his own rule.

“David Stern, who’s a very smart, very calculating guy, has said some things that he’s been criticised for that have been totally out of line and he speaks to the media like three or four times a season. It’s absurd what the expectations are.

“At the (league implemented pre-season) coaches meeting (held once a year), someone will step up and say something about accessibility and DS will beat them down in front of everybody.”

Now an analyst for ESPN, brother Jeff knows all too well about the NBA’s sanctioning. During his last coaching stint with the Houston Rockets, which ended in 2007, Van Gundy was fined $100,000 for comments regarding NBA officiating of larger sized players. Explaining his case in detail, and sounding very much in the right, Jeff Van Gundy was threatened by Stern that if he mentioned another word on the topic he would never coach again in the NBA.

Stern’s rule as commissioner has occasionally been criticised for the amount of control he imposes, which can sometimes be compared to the control of dictator, on the league with other notable controversies including the dress code implemented in 2005 and the age restriction on players entering the league, also implemented in 2005.

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