The NBA regular season is in its stretch run. Awful Announcing thought this would be a great time to talk with TNT analyst Stan Van Gundy. The 63-year-old has been a head coach for four NBA teams over 13 seasons and is known for his sharp opinions and keen insights.
We caught up with Van Gundy to discuss the league and other matters.
Awful Announcing: Are you retired from coaching?
Stan Van Gundy: “I think it’s unlikely that I return. I think it’s unlikely that I’ll get another opportunity at my age. I’ve made pronouncements before and then changed my mind. So, I’ve learned that you never say never to anything. You never know what opportunity could come along. I’m approaching this as this is my career. I’m trying to get better every day. I’m not looking at this as something to do in-between coaching jobs. This is my career right now.”
What do you love about broadcasting?
“I work with great people. In any job, it’s who you work for and who you work with, and I work for great people. I love the producers I work with, the play-by-play guys have carried me, mentored me, and put up with me. Brian Anderson the most, but Ian Eagle, who was my first partner, helped me a lot. Kevin Harlan, Spero Dedes, (etc.), the sideline people, the people at NBA TV.
“I don’t care what profession you’re in. How much you enjoy it comes down to who you work for and who you work with. Secondarily, it keeps me close to the game… Also, it’s a lot less stressful. I haven’t lost a game in the last couple of years. I’m undefeated and I leave the arena feeling pretty good every night.”
How worried should commissioner Adam Silver be about the future of the NBA with load management and the record-low All-Star Game rating?
“We need to get our best players on the court more. Everybody talks about it in terms of load management. I think that’s a little overblown. I don’t think healthy players are sitting out that many games. I think the larger issue is that we have guys getting hurt a lot. … My concern is that we’re trying to manage them in terms of minutes, missing a game here and there, less practice and it’s not working. Injuries are up. These guys are missing games for legitimate injuries. But why, with all the stuff we’re doing, is the answer around the league less, less, less. We’re getting more, more injuries. That to me is a huge question for the league because we need to have those players available.”
Do you have any suggestions on how to improve the regular season?
“For all awards, all-NBA, I’d like to see them go to an 80-percent threshold. If you don’t play 65 games, you’re eligible for nothing. That would make some of those decisions of ‘Can I play tonight?’ a little bit more motivating for the players. My other suggestion—and I know most people will think I’m a crackpot—I think we should change the playoff series to a where the higher-seeded team gets five home games in a seven-game series. I think then, the regular season becomes a lot more important. What it also does for the higher-seeded teams is that it gives them an extra home game, revenue-wise. Do I expect them to entertain that idea? No.”
Is there a lesson to be learned from what happened to the Brooklyn Nets?
“Nothing is guaranteed to work, even though you look on paper and say, ‘Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden, that should work,’ you don’t know. The secondary lesson is that the way everything fits together is important. It’s not just about accumulating talent. This isn’t a video game where you get three guys with a 98 rating and you’re going to kill everybody. It doesn’t work that way because in real life one of those 98s has got to become an 88 for the thing to work. You don’t know if anyone is willing to do that. And there are injuries.
“The one thing I’ll say is that there should be no criticism of the Nets for trying to take that approach. For every general manager in the league, if Kevin and Kyrie walked into your office on July 1 and said ‘We want to play here,’ you’re signing them. Let’s cut the B.S. on that.”
Why did you hate The Banshees of Inisherin?
“Part of it was my expectations were raised. A friend of my daughter’s who is a real movie buff and one of the guys who works with us at Turner touted this movie. ‘Watch this, it’s great.’ I was taking a plane out to California. It was a long flight. I watched it and it was horrible.”
“I was ready to quit on it, but these guys really know what they’re talking about so it must get better. I stayed with it. It didn’t get better. It was not only bad. It was depressing. I take this long flight. I watch this horrible movie, and it put me in a bad mood. So I immediately texted both guys and (asked them) ‘You got to tell me what it is that you liked about this movie.’ This move was depressing and awful.”
"It was depressing. It was terrible… I don't know what the hell point they were trying to make but this movie sucked." – @realStanVG was more enraged today ripping The Banshees of Inisherin than any topic ever before ??? pic.twitter.com/BX71AiTdbh— Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz (@LeBatardShow) February 16, 2023
You give a lot of food opinions on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. What’s your most controversial one?
“The one that brought me the most constant feedback from Le Batard fans was that I only think you should have plain potato chips because the dip provides the flavor. I don’t want to hear it with flavored chips. I’ll run into somebody every week who will make some reference to that.”
“Jemele Hill and I got into it once about chocolate chip cookies versus brownies. It depends on which cookie and which brownie. Jemele was like, ‘It’s clearly brownies,’ and I’m like ‘Wait a minute, (what about) a nice, warm chocolate chip cookie?'”
What’s your prediction for the NBA Finals?
“I picked Milwaukee in the East earlier in the year. I still feel that way, but Boston and Philly are legitimate threats. … In the West, Denver has been the best team. I like what they’ve done. I don’t think they’re a great defense, but they’re good enough with that offense. I tend to trust that. Phoenix is worth watching. There are always trade deadline moves that alter things but not like this, not Kevin Durant. Phoenix is in the mix. And the outliers are the Clippers and the Warriors.”
“The Warriors are the defending champions. There are only two teams who have their core group and have proven they can win a championship: the Warriors and the Bucks. You can’t count the Warriors out. The Clippers have a championship-level roster, but they have shown no desire over the last 30 games to compete defensively at all. They haven’t shown enough. But I still look at that roster and say if anyone can put it together, it would be a team like the Warriors or the Clippers.”