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While the idea of a family business can be a bit cliched, there is a kernel of truth behind the idea. That’s even true in sports, where famous families like the Hulls, the Bretts, and the Mannings have found plenty of success. The two Van Gundy brothers, Jeff and Stan, took a different route, though. Rather than playing basketball at a professional level, they headed to the sidelines and became coaches.

And, as anyone who isn’t an only child can confirm, there’s always going to be a bit of rivalry between siblings. With that in mind, let’s crunch the numbers and see whether Jeff Van Gundy or Stan Van Gundy was the more successful NBA coach.

Both Jeff and Stan have cemented their status in NBA history thanks to long coaching careers and successful broadcasting tenures. But one brother holds bragging rights as the more successful coach.

Jeff and Stan Van Gundy have both had impressive coaching careers

While it’s easy to think that players do all of the hard work while coaches just hold a clipboard and yell at the referees, NBA bench bosses are under a great deal of pressure. As the cliche says, you can’t fire an entire underperforming roster, but you can change the coach. In light of that reality, both Jeff and Stan Van Gundy have put together impressive coaching careers.

Although he is approximately two-and-a-half years younger, Jeff was the first brother to coach at the NBA level. JVG joined the New York Knicks as an assistant in 1989, following brief stops at Providence and Rutgers. Across six-and-a-half seasons, Van Gundy served under four different head coaches, including Pat Riley, before taking over for Don Nelson during the 1995-96 season.

In a little under six full seasons as New York’s head coach, Jeff led the Knicks to the playoffs in all but one season and even an NBA Finals appearance in 1998-99. Then in 2003, nearly two full years after resigning from the Knicks, JVG agreed to become the Houston Rockets head coach, where he’d work through the 2006-07 season. He also led Team USA in the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup, winning a gold medal.

As for Stan, the elder statesman of the Van Gundy duo coached for 12 years — which included a one-year stop at Wisconsin — before getting his first NBA gig. The Miami Heat hired Stan as an assistant coach in 1995 after the new Heat boss Pat Riley was not allowed to poach Jeff from the Knicks. Riley later told the New York Times, “I wanted at least one Van Gundy with me.”

SVG served as a loyal assistant under Riley for eight full seasons before taking over for the Hall of Fame coach ahead of the 2003-04 campaign. He would lead the Heat for two seasons but resign during his third, the year Miami won its first NBA title.

In 2007, Van Gundy became the Orlando Magic head coach, leading Dwight Howard and company to the NBA Finals in 2009. He would later take charge of two more franchises: the Detroit Pistons in 2014 and New Orleans Pelicans for a single season in 2020.

Which Van Gundy brother has more wins?

The battle between brothers Jeff and Stan is closer than you might think. But one coach can say they’ve won more games as an NBA head coach.

Across 11 seasons, the 61-year-old Jeff has a coaching record of 430-318. He has also led his teams to 88 postseason games, compiling a 44-44 record. As for the 64-year-old Stan, the older brother has gone 554-425 across 13 seasons; he’s also above .500 in the playoffs, with a 48-43 record there.

Thanks to coaching over 200 more games than his younger brother, Stan has had more victories as a head coach. Thanks to the difference in sample size, though, Jeff has a slight edge when it comes to winning percentage, beating Stan .575 to .566. That places them 48th and 52nd all-time amongst all NBA coaches; that might not sound impressive, but those standings are more impressive when you consider how many bench bosses have good winning percentages by virtue of coaching a handful of games.

It’s still possible that Jeff and Stan Van Gundy could return to the sidelines one day

After full careers in coaching, Jeff and Stan have each found success as broadcasters. JVG has been a regular member of ESPN’s broadcasting crew since 2007, serving as one of the lead color commentators for the NBA Finals on ABC. Stan also joined ESPN as an analyst in 2018 before leaving for Turner in 2019. He left Turner to coach the Pelicans in 2020 but returned in 2021.

With that being said, though, it wouldn’t be surprising to see either coach trade in a microphone for a clipboard down the road.

While it initially seemed like Stan was done with coaching for good following his four-year tenure with the Pistons, he did return to the sidelines to work with Zion Williamson and the Pelican. While that work didn’t end happily, SVG told the Stupodity podcast that his exit from the Big Easy “wasn’t a mutual decision.” Perhaps that means the older Van Gundy feels like he has unfinished business in the Association.

But what about Jeff?

When you consider that he hasn’t coached since 2007, Jeff seems to be content sticking with his gig at ESPN. That doesn’t mean coaching doesn’t hold some continued appeal, though. In 2020, his ESPN colleague Brian Windhorst reported that JVG “really badly wants to get back into coaching” and “really tried to reinvigorate his career.” The New York Post also noted that Van Gundy was a finalist for the Houston Rockets gig in 2020 but lost out to Stephen Silas.

It’s also worth noting that ESPN parted ways with JVG at the end of June 2023. Perhaps that enforced change of careers will be the push that gets the former Knicks bench boss back into the game.

Is a coaching return for either brother on the cards? At this point, it’s anyone’s guess. The Van Gundy brothers, however, probably won’t be leaving the basketball scene anytime soon.


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