View Full Version : great ESPN article on JVG....

05-04-2005, 08:50 PM
if this has been posted, forgive me and delete this.

Jeff Van Gundy has been in some no-win situations before, but nothing like his tangle with David Stern.

story (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs2005/columns/story?columnist=wojnarowski_adrian&id=2052992)

When the commissioner's threatening words were read back to Jeff Van Gundy, the Rockets' coach looked like the kid in class whose firecracker-in-the-toilet prank went too far. Suddenly, it was like hearing his name being called over the intercom, the "Uh-oh's" trailing Van Gundy all the way to the principal's office, his uneasy laughter masking that sinking feeling that the joke was on him now.

Unless you're Michael Jordan, threats of investigations and deeper punishment don't disappear once David Stern calls you out. For a few hours, Van Gundy must have believed that Stu Jackson, his old coaching colleague and Westchester, N.Y., neighbor, could get him out of this mess, but it's much bigger than that now.

The NBA is used to coaches angling for calls this time of year, and Stern has always allowed it to a certain level. Van Gundy has been in the middle of these scrums for years, learning under Pat Riley and against Phil Jackson the nuances of working officials on off-days for calls in the next game.

"This one, in our view, set a new low for that," Stern said.

This time, an A-plus coach made a D-minus move, claiming conspiracy and routing Stern's fury into his life. Nevertheless, Van Gundy has been nothing but a solid citizen in the NBA and Stern knows this will never come to what he threatened Monday: A lifetime ban.

Stern wants to use Van Gundy to send a message to the rest of the league's coaches that what Van Gundy did insisting that an NBA referee told him the league was unjustly targeting Houston's Yao Ming because of Dallas owner Mark Cuban's complaining can never be repeated again.

Stern is the brightest of legal minds and would never go this far without a complete understanding of the powers of his office. An informal poll of NBA executives and league officials in the wake of Monday's late-night ultimatum was unanimous: As commissioner, Stern has the power to punish Van Gundy to the extreme levels of a long suspension. To think that this will ever become banishment is unrealistic. Yet, if Van Gundy stays on the Woodward and Bernstein path of protecting his Deep Throat, it will test the commissioner's power to police his sport. And the coach is guaranteed to lose, the way they all lose to Stern.

Mostly, Stern is trying to get him to give up his "source," something that, for self-preservation purposes on the sidelines, Van Gundy can never do. More than that, of course, Stern is trying to get Van Gundy to say there is no source. The sooner Van Gundy does, the sooner Stern can tell America to sleep easy knowing that playoff officials have no agenda but to call these games as they see them.

Van Gundy is trapped, and Stern knows it. If this whispering official does exist, and Van Gundy gives up his name, he will be known as a rat fink and a pariah among NBA referees. For him, the truth isn't an option. This isn't a reporter honoring an oath but a coach who wants to do nothing to ever jeopardize winning and losing down the line. If Van Gundy did blow the ref out, rest assured that there would be a conspiracy to make sure his Rockets never get another call. So, no, giving up the name isn't an option unless Van Gundy is no longer interested in getting a kind whistle again.

Regardless whether Van Gundy concocted the league referee out of desperation, he has no choice but to say he went too far and made up the story, then bow to a possible suspension to start the 2005-06 season. Because if Van Gundy dares to play the part of martyr, protecting his source with silence, he'll be risking the unprecedented wrath of Stern. If Stern can get away with suspending Latrell Sprewell and Ron Artest for the rest of regular seasons, he can do it to a coach, who must expect to be held to a higher standard of conduct.

If Van Gundy ever wants to coach in the NBA again, too, he won't be taking the commissioner to court. Stern is so ridiculously powerful that Van Gundy or any coach, for that matter would find himself coaching the midnight WAC game on The Deuce if he dared call Stern's bluff.

When the Rockets' run is over, Van Gundy needs to take that long walk to the principal's office, wipe away that mischievous smile and confess that his conspiracy claims told to him by an official were pure fiction. He'll have to take his likely 10-game suspension and leave it at that. He has no choice, and Stern knows it. Maybe Van Gundy can still come back and beat the Mavs this spring, but rest assured, Stern will stay unbeaten on these matters.

His league, his rules and his iron fist.

05-05-2005, 10:10 AM
Damn, I had no idea the commissioner has so much power. I do remember Simmons (Sports Guy, ESPN) referring to Stern as the 'Godfather' though... guess it's true.

05-05-2005, 12:12 PM
f'ing sternbot

I'm no rockets fan but I mean, just chill you don't have to go all apesh** on van gundy

05-05-2005, 01:34 PM
JVG is dumb. I am sorry. I feel bad for him and Yao but JVG certainly doesn't know how to handle this.

Stern is doing the right thing. I know I would do the same. JVG is hurting NBA's image.

05-05-2005, 04:34 PM
Originally posted by: seal614 f'ing sternbot

I'm no rockets fan but I mean, just chill you don't have to go all apesh** on van gundy Saying that "he won't continue in this league" may be overkill - but the fine is appropriate (ONLY 2% of his salary)... especially during the playoffs.

The commish, understandilbly, hates the conspiracy talk. Whether there is a conspiracy or not, Daniel Stern was looking for the perfect time to squash the rumors. JVG was dumb enough to throw him a softball - Stern is smart to swing for the fences. If JVG eventually admits he made it up (whether THATS the truth or not) - Stern looks justified.

JVG forced Stern's hand... you can't suggest the whole thing is rigged. You can gripe and complain, but you can't question the legitimacy of the NBA.