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Jeff Van Gundy

Jeff Van Gundy
File:Jeff Van Gundy.jpg
Jeff Van Gundy (right) was the coach for the Rockets from 2003 to 2007.
Personal information
Born (1962-01-19) January 19, 1962 (age 54)
Hemet, California
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Career information
High school Brockport Central
College Nazareth College
Position Point Guard
Career history
As coach:
Career highlights and awards

As coach:

Jeffrey William "Jeff" Van Gundy[1] (born January 19, 1962) is an American basketball coach and TV analyst. He is currently a color commentator for ESPN. He has previously been the head coach of the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets in the National Basketball Association.

Early life

Van Gundy was born in Hemet, California. He grew up in the town of Brockport, New York. He is the son of a basketball coach, Bill Van Gundy, the former head coach at Brockport State University in Western New York. His older brother Stan Van Gundy later became head coach of the NBA's Miami Heat and Orlando Magic and is currently the Head Coach and Director of Basketball Operations for the Detroit Pistons.

As a high-school point guard, he was a two-time All Greater Rochester selection in 1979 and 1980, leading Brockport Central to the Class AA finals. He continued his career at Nazareth College where he earned All American honors while leading the Golden Flyers to an NCAA Tournament berth in 1984. He remains the Nazareth career leader in free throw percentage at 87%.

Van Gundy attended Yale University before transferring to Menlo College and ultimately graduated from New York's Nazareth College in 1985.

Coaching career

Early career

Van Gundy began his basketball coaching career during the 1985-86 season at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, New York. The following year he became a graduate assistant under Rick Pitino at Providence College, helping the Providence Friars advance to the Final Four. In his second season with the Friars he was promoted to assistant coach under Gordon Chiesa. The next season, Van Gundy became an assistant coach under Bob Wenzel at Rutgers.

New York Knicks

On July 28, 1989, Jeff Van Gundy became assistant coach for the New York Knicks. The next six-and-a-half seasons were spent providing support to Knicks coaches Stu Jackson (1989–1990), John MacLeod (1990–1991), Pat Riley (1991–1995) and Don Nelson (1995–1996). During his tenure as an assistant coach the Knicks won three Atlantic Division titles, never finished lower than third in the division, and qualified for the playoffs every year. The Knicks advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1993 and the NBA Finals versus the Houston Rockets in 1994.[2]

Van Gundy was the head coach of the New York Knicks from March 8, 1996 until his resignation on December 8, 2001. He led the team to the playoffs six times, including their Cinderella run to the 1999 NBA Finals. Van Gundy created a memorable scene in the 1998 NBA Playoffs series between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat. When the Heat's 6'10", 240-pound center Alonzo Mourning[3] and the Knicks' 6'6", 250-pound forward Larry Johnson[4] engaged in a violent, bench-clearing brawl, Van Gundy unsuccessfully tried to break the fight up. Most memorably, the 5'9", 150-pound Van Gundy[5] fell to the floor and clung to Mourning's leg.[6]

In a 2001 game between the Spurs and Knicks, Danny Ferry elbowed Marcus Camby. While talking to the referee, Camby lost control and tried to punch Ferry. He missed and hit Van Gundy instead.[7]

Houston Rockets

Van Gundy was hired as head coach of the Houston Rockets in 2003.

In May 2005, Van Gundy was fined $100,000 by the NBA for accusing referees of targeting Houston Rockets center Yao Ming. Van Gundy blamed Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for causing the referees' alleged bias. This is the largest fine handed down to a coach in NBA history.[8]

On May 18, 2007, he was fired from that position after the team's seven-game, first-round playoff loss to the Utah Jazz.

Van Gundy moved into a broadcasting career after this, though on ESPN writer Bill Simmons' May 12, 2009 podcast, he expressed his desire to eventually return to coaching, stating he would consider being an assistant coach.

Broadcasting career

Following his firing from the Rockets in 2007, Van Gundy was a guest analyst for ESPN's broadcast of the Phoenix Suns-San Antonio Spurs game in San Antonio, Texas and has since been a broadcaster for ESPN.[9] Van Gundy now calls many basketball games as a color commentator with play-by-play announcer Mike Breen.

Feud with Howard Stern

During the ESPN broadcast of a Knicks game on April 2, 2014, Mike Breen pointed out that radio host Howard Stern (who had been given front row seats to the game) left early, as the Knicks were up by 27 points with 6 minutes left in the game. Van Gundy opined that, were it up to him, Howard Stern and anyone else who left a game early would not be allowed to get front row seats in the future. On the April 8, 2014 broadcast of the Howard Stern Show, Stern explained that he had to get up at 4 a.m. for his radio show and that he was also shooting an episode of America's Got Talent the next day, and didn't want to sacrifice his sleep to see a game, as it would interfere with his job. He said that, unlike himself, Van Gundy wouldn't understand this kind of dedication to one's career, or know what it takes to be "#1". Stern also thought it was stupid and "really fucking beautiful, if you really think about it," for Jeff to make up arbitrary rules in his head for game attendees, like not being allowed to leave a game early, and then to expect everyone else to know and follow these rules as if they were held in common. Stern also called Van Gundy a "douchebag", "asswipe", "dummy", "fuckin' schlub", "holier-than-thou guy", "turd", "douche", "wannabe", "cocksucking fuck" (later retracted), "cunt" (later retracted), "loser", "little tiny bald guy runnin' around all those big tall basketball players, dreamin' of [being] number one", "big dummy", "midget", and an "ugly little troll", whose "head is as empty as [his] scalp".[10][11]

Coaching record

Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win-loss %
Post season PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win-loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
NYK 1995–96 23 13 10 .565 2nd in Atlantic 8 4 4 .500 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
NYK 1996–97 82 57 25 .695 2nd in Atlantic 10 6 4 .600 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
NYK 1997–98 82 43 39 .524 2nd in Atlantic 10 4 6 .400 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
NYK 1998–99 50 27 23 .540 4th in Atlantic 20 12 8 .600 Lost in NBA Finals
NYK 1999–00 82 50 32 .610 2nd in Atlantic 16 9 7 .563 Lost in Conf. Finals
NYK 2000–01 82 48 34 .585 3rd in Atlantic 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First Round
NYK 2001–02 19 10 9 .526 (resigned)
HOU 2003–04 82 45 37 .540 5th in Midwest 5 1 4 .200 Lost in First Round
HOU 2004–05 82 51 31 .622 3rd in Southwest 7 3 4 .429 Lost in First Round
HOU 2005–06 82 34 48 .415 5th in Southwest Missed Playoffs
HOU 2006–07 82 52 30 .634 3rd in Southwest 7 3 4 .429 Lost in First Round
Career 748 430 318 .575 88 44 44 .500

Life outside basketball

Jeff Van Gundy is an executive board member of Pro-Vision, a Houston charter school and non-profit organization in Houston that provides educational, job-training, and mentoring services to boys and girls aged 10–18.

On May 8, 2011, Van Gundy received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from his alma mater, Nazareth College during the college's 84th Annual Commencement Ceremony.[12]


  1. ^ According to the State of California. California Birth Index, 1905-1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California. Searchable at
  2. ^ Jeff Van Gundy
  3. ^ Alonzo Mourning stats
  4. ^ Larry Johnson stats
  5. ^ Jeff Van Gundy stats
  6. ^ NY Times 5/3/98 "In Aftermath of Fight, Van Gundy Becomes the Little Big Coach"
  7. ^ ESPN
  8. ^ NY Times 5/3/05 "Van Gundy Runs Afoul of League and Pays a Price"
  9. ^ Spurs-Cavs match up isn't main attraction
  10. ^ Justin Terranova (April 8, 2014). "Knicks game sparks media war between Howard Stern, Jeff Van Gundy". New York Post. Retrieved April 9, 2014. 
  11. ^ Charles Curtis (April 8, 2014). "Howard Stern rips 'midget' Jeff Van Gundy after ex-Knicks coach criticized early exit". Retrieved April 9, 2014. 
  12. ^ [1]

External links