Pistons’ Van Gundy blasts ESPN for using Ball in anti-Walton story
New Orleans — Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy felt compelled to do something, so he did. When he believed a member of the coaching fraternity was being treated unfairly, he did something about it.
On Monday, Van Gundy blasted Sunday’s ESPN.com story by Jeff Goodman, which cited criticism by LaVar Ball, the father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, against Lakers coach Luke Walton. The story created a furor, stoked more by Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, who is the president of the NBA coaches association.
“You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more,” Ball told Goodman. “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.”
Van Gundy backed both Walton and Carlisle, noting that he reached out to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA Players Association and to Carlisle on Sunday night. He said he would consider pulling back from some of the ESPN media obligations for their game Jan. 19 against the Washington Wizards.
Following Monday afternoon’s shootaround, Van Gundy responded to ESPN’s coverage of the Ball comments with his own vitriol.
“That was some cheap (bullcrap) — that’s what that was — against a professional,” Van Gundy said. “If that’s the way they want to do it, that’s good, but I’m not going to feel obligated to give them extra time and wear a mic and go out and to reporters.
“They can mic LaVar or one of my player’s parents and do a between-quarters interview if that’s the way they want to cover the game.”
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Van Gundy reiterated several times that he doesn’t have any issue with LaVar Ball; his venom is more directed at ESPN and the way the story was directed against Walton, using a player’s parent as the source.
“I have no problem with (Ball). I’m not coming out against LaVar Ball. He’s a grown man, he can say what he wants; he’s found an audience,” Van Gundy said. “He’s promoted his players and his brand and has done a good job for his goals in what he wants to do.
“I don’t have that big a problem with Jeff Goodman. He wrote the article but somebody is in charge there and decides what they’re going to cover and what gets printed.”
Carlisle was one of the first NBA coaches to come out against the ESPN story, before the Mavs’ loss to the Knicks. He came to the defense of Walton, whose Lakers (12-27) have lost 12 of their last 14 games.
“As president of the coaches association, I view the recent ESPN article as a disgrace, quite honestly,” Carlisle said. “Luke Walton is a terrific, young coach who is bringing along a young team, and it’s a difficult task. If you don’t believe it, just ask me. We’re going through that now and went through that last year.”