Here's the Van Gundy anti-Bulls management rant
During the ESPN broadcast of Friday's Bulls-Mavericks game in Dallas, analyst Jeff Van Gundy blasted Bulls management and stood up for coach Tom Thibodeau.
Van Gundy is entitled to his opinion, but he obviously has a bias. Thibodeau was an assistant coach for Van Gundy in both New York and Houston. The two remain close friends.
Van Gundy was referring to a claim that Thibodeau had lost his team and was on the "hot seat," which usually means he's in danger of being fired. As far as I know, the only media member to suggest the hot seat theory in writing was Chris Sheridan of Sheridanhoops.com, a national NBA site. Van Gundy seems to believe Bulls management promoted this idea behind the scenes, but let's let JVG speak for himself.
“He has done such a good job here," Van Gundy said during the broadcast. "First two years had the best record in the league. Unfortunately, these last three playoffs have been disrupted by injury. But he came to the Bulls at a time where mediocrity reigned. They had struggled for a long time, they were basically a .500 team. Along with the emergence of some players, he's taken it to elite status.
“I think right now, it's almost criminal … what he's having to endure with some of the fringe media – attacking his job status, attacking his personality. This isn't new to Chicago Bulls basketball, all the way back to Phil Jackson. The team has publicly supported their coach while privately, often times, undermining that same person. You saw it with Vinny Del Negro, Scott Skiles. Think about it, they ran out Phil Jackson out after winning all those championships.
“I think it's wrong. It's wrong for the town, wrong for the team and it certainly has not been fair to Tom Thibodeau."
Van Gundy went on to spread his criticism to the Chicago media.
“Listen, I read every Chicago story and there is no doubt that the Bulls organization has the media, with a few exceptions, in their hip pocket," he said. "And for whatever reason, they have taken their sights on Thibodeau when all he's done is deliver greatness here in his five years."
This last part had me asking this question: Does Jeff Van Gundy believe I'm in the hip pocket of Bulls' management. Hmmm, I doubt it, but you never know. And I've spoken to Van Gundy several times. He knows the Daily Herald.
Bulls VP John Paxson went out of his way Sunday to refute those claims, along with another claim that Bulls management is undermining Thibodeau by using minutes restrictions on Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
That's kind of a moot point right now, anyway, since Joakim Noah is clearly making a slow climb back from his latest ankle injury.
The Bulls are headed out of town, so maybe things will cool off. As I've mentioned before, I think there's very little chance Thibodeau would get fired. But if the Bulls don't get past the first round of the playoffs, there's a strong likelihood of a mutual parting of ways after the season. We'll see. Maybe Van Gundy will apply if there's an opening.