He’s won more than 400 games as an NBA coach and now works limited hours at a nice salary as a television analyst. So, Jeff Van Gundy isn’t going to complain at a time when he knows other people are hurting. But Van Gundy cannot wait for the championship series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat to end.
The NBA bubble has been reduced from 22 teams to two
The suspension of the NBA season on March 11 after two Utah Jazz players tested positive for COVID-19 led to 20 weeks between games. Twenty-two teams were brought to Disney World to play a shortened conclusion to the regular season and determine the 16 playoff squads.
Slowly but steadily, teams were eliminated and sent home. The last two to go, the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets, had spent about 10 weeks in the NBA bubble. The Los Angeles Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and Miami Heat will be the last to leave this week after roughly 12 weeks away from home.
Lost in the excitement over the return of the NBA at a time when little was allowed to happen in the sports world is that plenty of others besides the members of the two finalists have been stuck in the bubble for most or all of the resumed season. Among them has been a small army of announcers, camera operators, and technicians for ABC, ESPN, and TNT.
The likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley have been able to live relatively normal lives while working at remote studios, but Jeff Van Gundy has been doing color commentary live from Orlando and has had only a pair of brief breaks.
‘I’m a basket case,’ NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy admits
ESPN and ABC announcers Jeff Van Gundy, Mike Breen, and Mark Jackson took a pair of four-day breaks during the NBA bubble to return home, but they’ve otherwise been part of the crew logging close to three months in Orlando.
Game days have been the best, Van Gundy told the Rochester Business Journal because preparing for the telecast and calling the contest made time pass quickly. Off days have been the worst because there’s relatively little to do in one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions when leaving the bubble isn’t permitted.
“I’m a basket case,’’ Van Gundy said. “Yes, we are fortunate to have a job and fortunate to be healthy, but there’s a repetitiveness to the days. … Your mind starts wandering and you begin concentrating on how much you miss the normalcy of your everyday life.”
Obviously, he has missed considerable time with his wife and two daughters. The one plus along the lines of family considerations has been the time he has spent with his brother. Stan Van Gundy, another former NBA coach, has also been working as a color commentator.
“It was great being able to spend time with Stan. We got caught up on a lot of things, some important, some foolish. We talked about everything and solved nothing. That time together was a blessing.”Jeff Van Gundy
Jeff Van Gundy has been mentioned as a coaching candidate
Although he’s worked for USA Basketball and might be in line down the road to coach in the Olympics, it has been a long time since Jeff Van Gundy, 58, has patrolled an NBA sideline. He was 248-172 with the New York Knicks from 1995-2002 and 182-146 with the Houston Rockets from 2003-07. Van Gundy has been working on TV since.
Mike D’Antoni’s decision to leave the team has made the Houston Rockets vacancy attractive to coaching hopefuls. Plenty of people are reading something into the fact that Van Gundy departed from the Rockets on good terms and is said to have a good relationship with general manager Daryl Morey.
Van Gundy danced around the question of whether he would consider a return to coaching.
“I don’t rule out anything, and I don’t rule in anything either. I’ve got a great gig and I’m thankful for it. If some job in whatever line of work comes about that’s better for myself and my family, I would be open to it.”Jeff Van Gundy