“The Lakers are up 2-0,” ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy says of any perceived bias towards brother Stan. “What do they have to be unhappy about?” Still, the former Knicks/Rockets coach can’t help but get a little choked up when gushing to the LA TImes’ Diane Pucin.
“I’m doing my best,” Jeff Van Gundy said. “But it’s hard. I haven’t hid it, I won’t hide it now. He’s my brother. This is the biggest moment of his life. I want him to win. So it’s hard.
“Do I find myself pulling my punches? Probably. Do I think twice before I make a criticism about the Lakers? Absolutely. But, hey, how much could they have been criticized so far? Not much.”
Van Gundy said that in thinking about Sunday’s broadcast, he probably wasn’t as vocal about criticizing some officials’ calls he thought went the Lakers’ way.
For example, at the end of the first quarter there was a blocking foul called on Magic center Dwight Howard. While fellow ABC analyst Mark Jackson immediately said it was a bad call and waited for Van Gundy’s response, there was uncomfortable silence, as if Van Gundy were biting his tongue.
Van Gundy, though, didn’t hold his tongue after Stan Van Gundy gave the Magic a noisy tongue-lashing during a timeout.
Early in that game, a 101-96 Lakers overtime win, Jeff listened to Stan’s red-faced, voice-cracking rant telling his team it was playing “terrible.”
“I disagree with Stan,” Jeff Van Gundy said on the telecast. “Turnovers are a problem, but I think they’re playing a much better game” than they did on Thursday in Game 1.
And then there was this comment from Jeff Van Gundy: “I’m going to say this; the lineup on the floor for Orlando probably hasn’t played 100 total minutes together this year.” Lakers fans may have thought he was making excuses. “But that was just a fact,” he said Monday.
There also was a moment during the broadcast when Van Gundy let out his emotions a bit. “When I was a kid growing up,” he said, “Stan was always Batman. I was Robin. I know my role.”