A few weeks ago, rumors began to circulate that Stan Van Gundy would join ESPN’s revamped NBA Countdown crew this year. Even though nothing official ever came down, the speculation was met with a mostly positive reaction. Much like his brother, Jeff, Stan Van Gundy was and is something of a beloved figure amongst hoops fans and would have been a welcome addition to an otherwise irritating crew.
On Wednesday, The Big Lead reported that SVG was no longer being considered as a candidate for NBA Countdown. No specific reason was given, but his well-documented beefs with Commissioner David Stern was mentioned as one potential sticking point. After The Big Lead published their story, ESPN came out and said: “We had discussions with Stan Van Gundy and were interested in a role for him at ESPN. Ultimately, we differed on potential assignments and we moved in another direction.”
So there you go. It happens, right? So long as the Worldwide Leader had a good reason, surely SVG wouldn’t be too salty about the final decision. Right? Right?
“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.
“We actually did agree on a role, but then they came back and pulled that. That’s when we knew something was up.
“Nobody is going to give a straight answer because … that’s just the way a lot of people operate … nobody there has the guts to say anything, so that’s what you deal with.
“What I find fascinating … you have to give David Stern and the NBA a lot of credit … ESPN pays the league, and then the league tells them what to do. It’s more ESPN’s problem. You gotta have no balls whatsoever to pay someone hundreds of millions of dollars and let them run your business.
“Just say what happened. Who cares? Who cares if I’m on there or not. Just come out and say this is what we decided and why … [ESPN's quote] that’s just a flat out lie. Why would you do that? I don’t understand. We agreed on something, you changed your mind and pulled the offer. Don’t say we couldn’t come to an agreement. We did.
The point of concern here isn’t whether or not SVG gets a gig on ESPN. That doesn’t really matter. What does matter, however, is why ESPN won’t give it to him. If they don’t want to give it to him because he isn’t fit for the position – no problem. It’s all good. But if they are brushing him off because of Stern, that throws the company’s credibility into serious doubt. If they get bossed around like this on the subject of how to run their own operation by partners, how do they handle other conflicts with their partners? You know, journalistic conflicts, maybe?
This is a big deal. Keep an eye on this situation – how it unfolds will tell us a lot about where ESPN’s loyalties lay.
(Kudos The Big Lead)