Dec 1, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; ESPN announcer Jeff Van Gundy sits courtside befopre the game between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden. Photo Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

After a tough year, personally and professionally, Jeff Van Gundy can officially call himself an NBA Champion for the first time in his illustrious career.

Van Gundy credited the Boston Celtics with giving him a lifeline during a tough time. While he has since accepted a position on Ty Lue’s coaching staff with the Los Angeles Clippers, Van Gundy played a role—albeit a small one—in Boston securing its 18th championship.

But what did his role as a senior advisor entail? Well, Van Gundy finally shared some insights on The Lowe Post with ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

“I think whenever you get let go of a job, the sting is — and it’s happened to me before in coaching — the sting stays there,” Van Gundy said of his highly publicized firing from the Worldwide Leader. “Whether you have money coming to you or not, I think that sting and that lack of everyday purpose…When someone says, ‘We’re better off without you than with you,’ there’s no doubt you take a hit. And so, I had talked to Brad (Stevens) previously, before being let go, just like I had talked to Dallas.

“Because I decided I was going to stay in broadcasting, I turned both opportunities down. Then I got let go by ESPN, and I re-visited it with Brad. And, he was great. We had talked about everything about this consultancy position, from G-League to coaching, a lot of different things. They didn’t need my help or anything like that, but I’m beyond grateful to have someone help me out like Brad and Joe (Mazzulla) did. And also give me real work.

“I think the combination of those two helped me through a little bit of turbulent waters, and that’s why I’ll forever be the biggest fan of the Celtics, as far as the people there that I worked with. Both in the front office, the coaching staff, and the G-League staff. I liked them all, I learned from all of them, and, man, I think the year I spent with the Celtics gave men such a much better chance for success now going to the Clippers than if I hadn’t taken that position this year.”

While downplaying his overall impact, Van Gundy offered specifics about his work. He spent considerable time analyzing games and development within the Maine Celtics, Boston’s’ G-League affiliate. He also provided general support to the Celtics, offering his insights and experience whenever Stevens or Mazzulla needed them. He also mentored younger coaches on the staff by sharing his observations on their teaching methods.

“Nothing huge,” Van Gundy explained. “The Celtics gave me more than I gave the Celtics, for sure. But I was just glad to be on the ride, and like I said, it was rejuvenating because people, I don’t think realize, everybody knows that Joe’s young, but other than Sam Cassell, everybody on the coaching staff — and these are huge staffs now — is under 40…”

Initially, Van Gundy envisioned a longer-term stay with the Celtics. However, circumstances changed. The transition from broadcasting to consulting and back to coaching was a significant shift, prompting him to re-evaluate his options. But it didn’t appear that a return to broadcasting after his ESPN exit was in the cards.

Prior to joining the Celtics front office last summer, Van Gundy spent 16 years with ESPN as their lead NBA analyst. That tenure ended when ESPN let Van Gundy go as part of cost-cutting efforts, a surprising decision that subsequently sent the network’s lead NBA booth into a bit of flux this season. One of the reasons ESPN reportedly decided to part ways with Van Gundy after 16 years was because of his coaching interests.

Now, he’ll return to coaching, reuniting with Ty Lue, whom he coached with the Houston Rockets and collaborated with at USA Basketball, in Los Angeles.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Van Gundy said. “People always ask me, ‘Are you sure you want to do it?’ You’re never sure until you do it. I’m sure I want to help, and I want to work, and I want to do it in basketball… I’m excited to go out there in any way (Ty Lue) deems fit, and fit in with his staff and try to help the Clippers achieve what they want to, which is win big and be a championship-level contender.”

And being that he just won a championship, perhaps Van Gundy can help Los Angeles get there.

“I’m really excited about this job with the Clippers,” he added. “Not what this job is going to possibly do for me from an employment standpoint.”

[The Lowe Post]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.