If Don Chaney can sound off on his former employers, why not ex-Knicks/current Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy? The latter had an observation or two about current Knicks activities for the New York Times’ Howard Beck.
Jeff Van Gundy is nearly three years removed from his time with the Knicks, but escaping the pressure of New York has not given him much relief. He is as emotionally wrought and emotionally honest as ever, whether the subject is his new team or his old one.
Van Gundy was dismayed at the dismissal of the longtime Knicks announcer Marv Albert, whom he counts as a friend. But he was even more troubled by the Knicks’ decision to fire Dick Helm – Lenny Wilkens’s top assistant – after the team lost its first two games.
“Dick Helm is one of the most wonderful guys you’d ever want to know, a very good basketball coach,” Van Gundy said. “It’s unfortunate that it was him to take the burden of one bad game.”
Van Gundy added: “When you’re the head coach and you’re in charge of it, that’s one thing. If we lose tomorrow, should our video coordinator be gone? Was it the tape that was wrong? Come on. I felt bad for Coach Helm.”
When the Knicks replaced Helm with Brendan Suhr, a close associate of the team’s president, Isiah Thomas, it left Wilkens with a staff chosen entirely by others, including one assistant, Mike Malone, who was originally hired by Van Gundy.
“As a coach, you should have total control of who’s on your staff, if you’re going to be judged on the result,” Van Gundy said.
Van Gundy said he was not necessarily referring to the Knicks. “That happens a number of places,” he said. “Lenny Wilkens has gotten good results since he’s been there, with an ever-changing hand that’s being dealt to him. I think he’s done a fantastic job.”