Rockets Hopeful Jeff Van Gundy Critiques Knicks—Heat Fight, Coaching Journey

Jeff Van Gundy

Jeff Van Gundy (Getty)

Jeff Van Gundy‘s New York Knicks tenure was legendary; especially when he grabbed onto Alonzo Mourning’s legs during a Game 4 1998 NBA Playoff game between the orange and blue and their Eastern Conference rivals, Miami Heat.

Both Mourning and Johnson were suspended for Game 5 and the Knicks ended up winning the series before losing to Reggie Miller an the Indiana Pacers in the next round.

Van Gundy was also famously barrier between a Marcus Camby swing that was aimed at Danny Ferry during a 2001 Martin Luther King Day game at Madison Square Garden between the Knicks and the San Antonio Spurs.

Van Gundy’s head collided with Camby’s while he stepped between the players. Van Gundy needed more than a dozen stitches to close the cut over his left eye.

Camby was suspended for five games and was fined $345,000 for the incident.

While on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show, I asked Van Gundy which incident he’d like a do-over on. “Well I think there’s no doubt that if I had one do over, it would be the [Alonzo] Mourning thing,” he told me.

“Because, you don’t… I had NO business being out there on the court. I went out there with the right intentions but, you don’t get involved in that stuff. And if you do, you don’t grab another team’s player. You grab your own guys. So, I’d definitely wouldn’t want a do over there. As far as the [Marcus] Camby situation, Camby had got hit with a cheap shot and I don’t blame him for trying to get at [Danny] Ferry…unfortunately I was trying to get to Marcus, to prevent him from getting in a fight, suspended etc., he swung and hit me and ended up getting I think, a five game suspension. So I got the stitches and the suspension on my guy…that’s not a good combination.”

Jeff Van Gundy is believed to be one of three coaching candidates being considered to be hired to fill the Houston Rockets’ current head coaching vacancy.

While Van Gundy is believed to be a leading candidate, Stephen Silas and John Lucas are also being considered.

“Coaching is a great occupation,” Jeff Van Gundy told me on Heavy Live With Scoop B Show.

“I have a great job right now. If another job I feel is better for me, then I’ll do that.”

Currently an analyst on ESPN, Van Gundy has 18 years worth of experience in the NBA as a coach. Eleven of those years Van Gundy spent as a head coach of the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets. Seven of those seasons, Van Gundy was an assistant coach with the Knicks.

As an NBA head coach, Jeff Van Gundy compiled an overall record of 430-318 (. 575) and led teams to the NBA Olayoffs in nine of his 10 full seasons. He also posted a 44-44 all-time playoff record.As an NBA head coach, Jeff Van Gundy compiled an overall record of 430-318 (. 575) and led teams to the NBA Olayoffs in nine of his 10 full seasons. He also posted a 44-44 all-time playoff record.

“I came in the late 80’s and I was very young,” Van Gundy told me.

“I was 27 when I got an assistant coaching job with the New York Knicks and we had – the core of the team was Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley and Mark Jackson. And they all have respect just naturally for coaches and the position of coach. So what you find about great leaders is… the first step is to be a great follower and they were great followers which allowed them the chance to also become great leaders and be followed themselves and so, I had it great. Those three were tremendous and I was with that organization for 13 years; 6 ½ as an assistant and 6 ½ as a head coach; and I always had the benefit of having one of them on my team and they just again… tremendous leaders that showed respect. And the same thing when I went to Houston, really good guys and certainly I can’t relate to everything that an ex-player could relate to as a coach; you know, I don’t know what that feels like. But I don’t think that it was ever an issue with anybody of significance that I coached.”

For years, he’s been rumored to be in the mix for coaching jobs. But he’s not taken any of them.


“Well, there’s been jobs that I’ve been offered in the NBA that I didn’t think that were a great fit for me,” he said.

“There were other jobs that I thought that would be a great fit and didn’t get them offered. So it’s really some of both in that you know…I’ve had opportunities that you know, wasn’t the right timing or the right place and then there was others that I thought, “Man. This would be a great fit.” But, they decided to go in a different direction.”

Van Gundy’s also developed a philosophy of not accepting coaching jobs mid-season. “First of all, I think you have to respect the profession,” he said.

“And you respect the people that are coaching in other situations and you know how hard it is and you don’t want to make anybody’s situation more difficult. And I think I go a step even further – I don’t address coaching rumors because I feel like if the team wants to address a rumor or who they’re interviewing, that’s up to them. For myself, I try to do everything behind the scenes in a very quiet manner and that’s what works best for me. That doesn’t mean that it’s best for everyone, it’s just best for me.”

Jeff Van Gundy likes Diet Coke. Is there a chance he has stock in it? “No stock and I’ve gone the healthier route now,” he said.

“I’m drinking Coke Zero for the most part. So I think that’s a tad better for you than Diet Coke, I’m sure hoping so.”

His brother Stan Van Gundy is believed to be a New Orleans Pelicans head coaching candidate. I told him that my intern didn’t realize the two were related and asked him if he’s ever encountered people that didn’t think they were brothers.  “I don’t think so,” he said.

“First of all, the name isn’t that common and we’re in the same occupation so, I’d have to check on your standards of internship [laughs]…like, you can’t put that together? Like, two short ugly dudes in the same job? C’mon.”

Lastly, I asked Van Gundy if he could beat fellow ESPN analyst, Mark Jackson in a game of HORSE. “Well if there’s no trick shots and its straight shots, I think I could hold my own,” he told Heavy Live With Scoop B.

“The one think about Mark though, even though he had a funky form he was an underrated range shooter and he could make timely shots. But if we could stay in that 17-foot range, I gotta chance!”



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