- Jeff Van Gundy spent 16 years at ESPN, calling basketball’s biggest games
- But in July it emerged that the analyst was among those leaving the company
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver has denied that he or the NBA played a role in recent ESPN layoffs following accusations that he was behind Jeff Van Gundy’s controversial departure.
Van Gundy, 61, is a former head coach of the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. He spent 16 years at ESPN, building a reputation for blunt and sometimes contentious opinions.
He was part of a popular broadcasting team alongside Mike Breen and Mark Jackson. But, back in July, it was confirmed that Van Gundy was among those being laid off by ESPN.
The decision prompted suggestions – notably by Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo – that Silver had ordered ESPN to release the veteran analyst.
The NBA chief addressed those accusations during an appearance on JJ Redick’s ‘The Old Man and the Three’ podcast on Wednesday.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has denied that he or the NBA had a hand in ESPN layoffs
Veteran NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy was among those laid off by broadcaster ESPN
‘Despite what was written about some talent changes at ESPN, the league does not have a say there,’ he said, via the Post.
‘Where we do have a say is in the schedule itself. There is a back-and-forth between the networks and league office on scheduling, determining which teams to max out on… often the push from the league is: “Let’s feature more teams.’”
He added: ‘We have very little influence on ancillary programming, and you can speak to that because you know, now that you’re part of that, I’ve never called you and said that I can’t believe you’re talking about this or that.’
Back in July Russo said he couldn’t ‘fathom’ the decision to lose Van Gundy.
‘You’re not going to convince me that ESPN woke up in the last two weeks, looked at the budget sheet, and said: “We gotta fire Van Gundy because we gotta save some money”,’ he said.
‘Silver is the one who fired Van Gundy. Silver told ESPN: “I want him out.”‘,’ Chris Russo said
‘ESPN will never admit it. They’re gonna say it’s our call. Nonsense. Why would they get rid of a great team? That team is a great team… you’re not going to convince me that that team, that everybody likes. Nobody doesn’t like that team.’
Mad Dog added: ‘That leads me to the conclusion that someone in the league office must’ve told ESPN: “I want Van Gundy out…”
‘We all know he’s biting. We all know he gets on the officials. We all know he doesn’t hold back with his NBA opinions.
‘So, if you’re asking me, little talk show host, who may not know a thing, this is just my opinion, Silver is the one who fired Van Gundy. Silver told ESPN: “I want him out.”‘