SBD/October 22, 2012/Media

Jeff Van Gundy Suggests NBA Influenced ESPN's Decision Not To Hire Brother Stan

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Stan Van Gundy "had a basic agreement" to join ESPN, according to brother Jeff
ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy "suggests his brother Stan's failure to land a studio analyst role at ESPN raises big questions about whether ESPN's NBA coverage can be reasonably independent,” according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. Jeff Van Gundy said his brother "had a basic agreement" to become an ESPN/ABC analyst for the nets' studio shows. He added, “There's certainly circumstantial evidence that something from the outside -- presumably the NBA -- changed (ESPN's) thinking. ... As a broadcaster of the NBA, it [gives] you pause. How forthcoming can you be? You don't want your honesty to cost you a chance at employment. This is a shot across the bow." He said of ESPN, "This is an organization that's treated me great. But this raises interesting questions about what a (league-network) partnership means. You have to realize, as a fan, you're not getting the whole truth. ... It seems like there are certain people in each sport that (TV broadcasters) can't criticize, or you can't criticize the league itself.” ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys yesterday said, "We had discussions with (Stan) and we were interested in a role for him at ESPN. Ultimately, we moved in a different direction." NBA Senior VP/Marketing Communications Mike Bass:  "It was ESPN and ESPN alone who made any decisions about Stan Van Gundy" (USA TODAY, 10/22). ESPN’s "SportsCenter" referenced the article throughout its morning broadcast today, with anchor Sage Steele saying Jeff Van Gundy “suggests that the NBA blocked” ESPN’s move to hire Stan Van Gundy, “raising questions about the independence of ESPN’s NBA coverage” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 10/22).

SUBTRACTION BY ADDITION? In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote ESPN’s Jon Barry “got screwed” in being replaced as co-host of “NBA Countdown” by Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons. Barry was the “best thing on ESPN’s rancid ‘NBA Countdown’ studio show.” Perhaps ESPN execs “didn’t appreciate Barry’s backbone.” Unless Rose and Simmons “find a way to put a sock in [Magic] Johnson’s mouth, ‘Countdown’ will be a show in search of yet another new cast for the 2013-14 season” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/21). But in Tampa, Tom Jones writes Simmons is “an interesting addition,” and a “good move by ESPN.” Jones: “Heck, it's a studio show. Why not think out of the box a little? Plus, Rose is superb” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/22).
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