Jeff Van Gundy once had a “contentious” relationship with NBA broadcasting legend Marv Albert, but the two have since settled their differences.
Van Gundy, now a longtime top color commentator for ESPN, joined this week’s “Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast” — a joint venture between The Post and Sports Business Journal.
Van Gundy explained that, in the year between coaching the Knicks and the Rockets, he worked on a TNT announcing crew with Marv and Mike Fratello. Van Gundy said he was touched to learn that Albert pushed for the job even though they hadn’t particularly gotten along when Van Gundy coached the Knicks and Albert announced their games locally on MSG and also nationally on NBC.
“Marv Albert really pushed for that [me to get that TNT job],” Van Gundy said. “And so I worked with he and Mike Fratello and the crazy thing, even though Marv did our games, it wasn’t like we spoke often. He was one of the old school guys who wanted to keep a healthy distance between team and broadcaster so that, you know, he could remain objective. And I didn’t really appreciate it when I was a Knicks coach, because I wanted more of a homer. Marv and I, like I said, we barely spoke and when we did, it was usually a little contentious.
“And then to find out that he actually pushed for me when we really didn’t have any like great relationship or anything, it really meant a lot to me. And I learned so much with him and Mike Fratello, so that when I went to the Rockets and I was done there, I had a little experience. But again, I didn’t have any designs on ‘I’m gonna do this because I know I can be good at it.’ I sort of was in the way at TNT and that three-man booth, but I learned a lot.”
Marchand asked what the points of contention were between Van Gundy and Albert.
“It always centered around [Patrick] Ewing,” Van Gundy said. “I didn’t think he was particularly fair to Ewing as I listened and watched the game after — as you do as a coach. Sometimes I did it with the sound down, but when the sound was up and so, you know, I just didn’t [think he was fair].”
Van Gundy felt that Marv was anti-Ewing/Knicks, and pro-Jordan/Bulls.
“And the thing I didn’t understand is, and now I do is you just have to say what you think in those jobs and you can’t be worried about how it’s gonna be received. You have to try to be fair and direct. And, that’s what he was as a Knicks broadcaster. You know, and I thought there was like an anti-Knick bias at times and an anti-Ewing bias and a pro-Jordan pro-Bull bias.”
However, now that he’s worked many seasons as an announcer, Van Gundy understands Marv’s perspective on things.
“That was me as a coach,” Van Gundy said. “Me as the broadcaster, now understands that, hey, Marv was just doing his job. And whether you agree with someone or you disagree with him doesn’t matter; it’s the broadcaster’s job to say what he thinks and, and to be honest and fair.
“I think every broadcaster should have to try to coach and every coach should and, and, or play, and every, uh, coach should have to try to broadcast because then you’d have a greater appreciation for the job. The other guys are doing one, you know, what you were doing with the media though.”
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