This guy is an amazing analyst. Amazing. I am surprised with his quality of knowledge and ability to break down basketball gameplay so well on two levels:
1) I am surprised with all of his knowledge that he hasn’t been talked about in many of my peer circles. These circles revolve around blabla WEEI radio in Boston ( I don’t get home till 12AM often so its usually Fox Sports; fun shit to listen to before sleepy time), my friends who may/may not know shit about sports, blogs, etc. I always feel a lot more in tune with the game when Gundy is ranting in the background!
2) That he hasn’t been touted to take or at least be a high candidate in any coaching position. He actually was a candidate for the Knick’s job ( Walsh’s Indiana team was re-vamped in the offseason after getting clobbered by Van Gundy in the 99 Eastern Conference Finals ), but he took himself out of the offering ( Great article on his days as the Knicks’ head coach ) This guy goes onto teams and tends to win. If anything, I would be given him Rick Carlisle money if I needed him to run my team!
My friend finds him annoying and that he rants too much during the game ( an editorial I found also found him guilty of ranting). I find this to be bullshit, because for one thing, that is his job. It is to rant about situations that happened, and piece the game-play together. For another, he usually is right on point about a lot of what’s going on with the game, and he does it with the style of the old uncle-with-beer-in-hand-yelling-at-the-tv type of way. His perspective in basketball is way beyond the average fan, but he analyzes it in such a way that anyone can understand, or at least relate to his intensity when he is conveying his thoughts.
Lastly, he hasn’t really been saying much as the playoffs has started, and gives Mark Jackson ( whose voice gets so deep I sometimes go: “WTF, did they get the movie preview guy to analyze the pre-commercial replay?!”) a lot of breathing room to call his shots.
His humor is top-notch, and sometimes at such a peak that he does shift away from the game at hand. I remember one game when San Antonio was playing another team, and before the 4th quarter did a flashback to Avery Johnson beating the Knicks in 1999 on a wide open 3-pointer with little time on the clock. Jeff van Gundy, taking the brunt of that loss being the coach of that team, screams during the flashback:
(paraphrasing) ” Allan Houston! Transition defense! We knew this play was coming, we practiced against this play all the time. Allan Houston, if you are watching this right now, transition defense!”
His analysis is on-point, and I always feel smarter about what I am watching in basketball when I listen to him. Today, he talked about how the pick & roll is a greater play-option now for Pierce than when he was younger since he would make bad decisions in congested play-schemes ( such as the pick & roll where 2 or more defenders may play against it, and places multiple players in a small spot.) . The fact that he sees that Pierce is better at producing in this play has made me understand how Pierce is utilizing this play more than he did when he was younger. Gundy also pointed out that in this game, the Celtics were having Pierce play the pick & roll more than any other time he has seen in his career.
Hey, I am always a fan of hyperbole, and anyone would be able to refute the comment, but this is rich commentary that gives such an in-depth insight to the game and strategy that I feel apt to see how the game is played. The most I can do is contest Gundy’s observations, but he is so specific and knowledgeable, that refuting a lot of his theories would require me to observe the game with a better eye. Thus, from his analysis, I am a better basketball watcher.
I can go on and on about this guy, but I have a beer in my hand ( Steel Reserve High Gravity to be exact. ) and I am drinking it in honor of Jeff Van Gundy. You rock!