Q+A Jeff Van Gundy

January 13, 2003

The 40-year-old former Knicks coach took a break from his job as
a TNT analyst to chat about the NBA and himself.

SI: Does evidence of Michael Jordan's fallibility bring at least
the tiniest of smiles to your face?

Van Gundy: Only if it had happened a decade or so earlier.
Unfortunately, Michael was in his prime when he was playing
against some of our strongest Knicks teams in their prime. And
his prime was primer than ours.

SI: Would you recommend that scholars do as you did and transfer
from Yale to Menlo College in California?

Van Gundy: My mother has still not forgiven me. She'll never
understand going from Yale to Menlo so I could get more playing
time [on the hoops team].

SI: How important should fashion be to an NBA coach?

Van Gundy: I was one of the few coaches who got calls from top
designers making sure that I did not wear their stuff.

SI: What's the toughest challenge that NBA players face each day?

Van Gundy: To keep the team first. That is absolutely the hardest
thing because all of us have selfish personalities by nature. To
try to keep the team first is incredibly difficult.

SI: Will you coach again in the NBA?

Van Gundy: I don't know. That's my belief, that I'll coach again
someday in the NBA. But it's hard to say because circumstances
change all the time.

SI: Is broadcasting good training for a coach-in-waiting?

Van Gundy: It's a great way to stay up to date and to view other
teams' practices and get different ideas about how coaches do
things. But as far as improving your coaching, the best way is to
coach.

SI: Do you have a favorite New York tabloid headline that plays
off Van Gundy?

Van Gundy: My name unfortunately links itself to leaving. There
was VAN GONE. VAN GONE-DY. Also VAN GRUMPY. But the best headline
was THE WHINER WITHIN.

SI: Are the refs really out to get Pat Riley, or are they just
out to get every coach?

Van Gundy: You know what? I very rarely stay away from something,
but when it comes to those officials, I'm going to stay as far
away from them as I can. It's better for my job now and one I may
have in the future. --R.D.

For more from Van Gundy, go to cnnsi.com/scorecard.

COLOR PHOTO: GEORGE DESOTA/GETTY IMAGES Left Yale for Menlo College

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