Jeff Van Gundy has very strong opinions on tanking and who to blame for NBA teams that give up on winning in hopes of getting more ping pong balls.
Appearing on the latest episode of the SI Media Podcast, Van Gundy was asked what he'd do if he became commissioner of the NBA. "The first thing I would do is, I would take away every incentive there is to lose," said ESPN's lead NBA analyst. He continued, saying the following:
"What’s going on in the NBA right now is a scandal that, because the media believes it’s “strategy” versus a “scandal,” it gets reported like it’s a strategy. No one plays in these games and unless you come out and say it like Mark Cuban did, and he got fined for it, that we’re better off losing than winning, everybody just wink winks at each other, acknowledges that it’s gong on and is ok. And anytime you become OK as a business to not try your best, and I’m not talking about the players on the floor, I’m talking about organizations and then the NBA, which tacitly gives them license to not try their best, I think it’s an absolute scandal, but the media does it and the media controls the narrative and because the media is controlled many times by information and by who leaks to who, they report it as strategy. So we got what, 9 or 10 teams not trying and haven’t been trying for a long time? And we’re OK with that? I’m not OK with that."
You can hear Van Gundy address tanking at the 17:30 mark of the podcast:
During the interview, Gundy also discussed why the Western Conference Finals are the NBA Finals, why doesn't like comparing LeBron James to Michael Jordan, what LeBron doesn't get enough credit for, how whining in the NBA became an epidemic, why replay is awful for all sports, being tired of senior dance crews, his hatred for people who shoot T-shirts into the crowd, whether he'd ever coach the Knicks again, why it's so hard to rebuild in the NBA, once calling Phil Jackson "Big Chief Triangle," working with Marv Albert and Mike Breen, what he learned as an announcer after being a head coach, the time he stopped paying attention to a game so he could talk about Rihanna, whether he's ever heard from ESPN or the NBA about something he said on air that they didn't like, what he said to a ref to get his only career ejection, his infamous leg grab during a Knicks-Heat fight, feuding with Howard Stern and more.