Did David Stern Persuade ESPN To Keep Stan Van Gundy Off NBA Pregame Show?
Former NBA coach Stan Van Gundy appeared on WAXY-AM's "The Dan Le Batard Show" yesterday and discussed a report from The Big Lead that NBA Commissioner David Stern "sabotaged" his ability to appear on ESPN's "NBA Countdown" pregame show. Van Gundy said, “No one at ESPN will tell us what happened, and certainly the NBA office isn’t going to tell us what happened. One of the quotes from ESPN in there was basically, 'We had discussions and couldn’t agree on a role.' As is usual in this thing, that’s a bunch of B.S. from ESPN. We actually did agree on a role and then they came back and pulled that. That’s when we knew something was up." He added, "Nobody’s going to give a straight answer because that’s just the way a lot of people operate. They want to operate behind the scenes and not tell people what happened. ... Nobody there’s got the guts to say anything, so that’s what you deal with. You have to deal with a lot of B.S., as you know, in every business.” Van Gundy said Stern and the league office deserve "a lot of credit” because ESPN “pays the league and then the league tells them what to do." Van Gundy: "That’s an interesting dynamic right there and ... it’s more ESPN’s problem. You got to have no balls whatsoever to pay somebody hundreds of millions of dollars and let them run your business.” He continued, “ESPN has the right to do whatever they want for whatever reasons they want. It’s their business. ... Just say what happened" ("The Dan Le Batard Show," WAXY-AM, 10/10).
BACK STORY: NBA Senior VP/Marketing Communications Mike Bass said, “It was ESPN and ESPN alone that made any decisions about Stan Van Gundy” (THE DAILY). An ESPN spokesperson 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.” THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre reported any "significant hires are discussed ... with the NBA," though ESPN "stopped short of using the word 'cleared.'" The spokesperson: "As you would expect, there is a constant two-way communication between media and league partners throughout our industry on various issues.” McIntyre noted Van Gundy's latest comments come after an appearance on Le Batard's show last month during which he was asked, "Who is the biggest dick in sports?" Van Gundy's "answer was, 'I'd say David Stern' followed by a huge pause 'well, just because he's David Stern,' before settling on the owner of the Marlins" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 10/10).