ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy rips ESPN over LaVar Ball-Luke Walton story
ESPN NBA broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy refused to allow professional loyalty stand in the way of ripping his employer over how it covers LaVar Ball.
The situation stems from a report published by ESPN in which the elder Ball, father of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, criticized Lakers head coach Luke Walton. LaVar Ball is quoted in the report as claiming Walton has lost his players.
The article has spawned widespread condemnation among NBA head coaches, including Van Gundy’s own brother, Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy, who intends to boycott the ESPN broadcast crew set to cover his team’s Jan. 19 game.
Jeff Van Gundy, appearing earlier this week on Sirius XM, blasted ESPN for its handling of the outspoken and often controversial Ball.
“You guys want the cheap shots,” Van Gundy said, via the New York Post. “You want the hits. You want these — like you said, clicks, whatever that means.
“… It is part of the business, and it’s also a reason why this does lack journalistic integrity. It is a reason for coaches to unite and say, ‘No no, forget it, if we have to take this, then why are we giving of our time?’ It’s not like they’re going to violate any rule if they don’t participate with ESPN.”
Van Gundy specifically criticized ESPN’s Ball-Walton report for being one-sided.
“There was no attempt in that article to present both sides,” Van Gundy said of Jeff Goodman’s article. “It didn’t state Lonzo Ball’s stats, I don’t believe. It didn’t talk about, like, the nine-game losing streak having anything to do with injuries.”
Van Gundy pointed out that parents of athletes often blame coaches when their child struggles. LaVar Ball obviously takes such a stance to arguably absurd extremes. And it doesn’t help that the media consistently provides the elder Ball with a forum to espouse on such issues.
“Instead of focusing in on the real issues, Jeff Goodman and ESPN got what they wanted,” Van Gundy said. “They started a little fire and now everyone’s talking about it.”