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Brothers are always willing to fight for each other. ESPN broadcaster and former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy demonstrated on Friday that that sense of loyalty certainly does not have an age limit, as he publicly criticized Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins for the manner in which he handled his brother‚Äôs firing.
Van Gundy‚Äôs brother, Stan, was dismissed as the team‚Äôs coach on Monday following five seasons with the organization, despite leading them to the postseason in each of those years. Following an obvious and much-prolonged rift between his all-star center Dwight Howard and him, management apparently felt pressure to choose between the two. Van Gundy stated earlier in the season that front office personnel had informed him of a request by Howard to have him fired. Howard vehemently denied that report and echoed that same sentiment following Van Gundy‚Äôs termination.
After Martins officially fired Van Gundy and complimented him on his brilliance and knowledge of the game, Jeff Van Gundy expressed fury to 98.7 ESPN Radio‚Äôs Stephen A. Smith about Martins‚Äô dishonesty in the role Dwight Howard played in the decision.
‚ÄúTo hide behind the fact or to try to make everyone believe that Dwight Howard didn‚Äôt have a part in this is absurd,‚ÄĚ said Van Gundy. ‚Äú’Say, listen, we fired this guy because we know this is our best chance to keep Dwight Howard. Dwight Howard and I decided to fire him.’ To do anything else is playing a game of semantics. And this is the biggest one to me ‚Äď ¬†he said that my brother is the finest ‚Äėx and o‚Äô coach he has been around in his 25 years in the business.‚ÄĚ
It didn‚Äôt end there. He had a powerful message to send to Martins about his overall basketball I.Q., as well.
‚ÄúOkay, listen, all you (CEO Alex Martins) have done in your 25 years in the business is release press releases and run the business side,‚ÄĚ continued Van Gundy. ‚ÄúYou don‚Äôt know if a ball is blown up or stuffed. You don‚Äôt know if the pick and roll coverage on the side is right or wrong. Just say that I have no knowledge about basketball. He doesn‚Äôt know one thing about basketball, so please hold off your comments on my brother‚Äôs expertise since you know nothing about basketball.‚ÄĚ
Van Gundy also called Martins ‚Äúunprofessional‚ÄĚ for breaking the news to his brother by phone shortly after he left the Magic‚Äôs facilities on Monday instead of telling him face-to-face.
In 2009, Stan Van Gundy‚Äôs Magic made it all the way to the NBA Finals, where they would put up a great fight against the Los Angeles Lakers, but only to fall short in five games. His final record with Orlando was 259-135.
Image Courtesy of¬†¬† Keith Allison