Anybody who has watched Jeff Van Gundy broadcast an NBA game knows that over-the-top, borderline overreaction to certain ancillary aspects of the game (maybe a minor rules interpretation or the antics of a mascot) are part of his "gimmick," if you will.
If Jeff Van Gundy were a heel WWE manager, part of his methodology of getting under your skin would be to impose his version of common sense on the viewing audience. It's what he does, and anyone who's watched it enough or has talked to Jeff Van Gundy in person knows that a big part of it is "just him having a little bit of fun."
Well, clearly, Howard Stern doesn't see the humor in Van Gundy's opinions, specifically his views on the unwritten rules of having a front row seat at an NBA game.
In case you missed it, at last Wednesday's Nets-Knicks game in Madison Square Garden, a game which ended in a 110-81 Brooklyn loss, Stern had a front row seat for the portion of the game that he stayed for.
And that's the key phrase in this beef....the portion of the game that he stayed for. Howard Stern does not keep bankers' hours. He's up very, very early to do his show, meet with sponsors, meet with people internally at Sirius XM. In short, being Howard Stern is pretty damn time consuming. Squeezing in a weeknight NBA game is not a normal occurrence. So not surprisingly, when this game was well on its way to being decided in the third quarter, Stern bailed and went home.
Van Gundy noticed this, and in his typical Van Gundian fashion, used Stern's early departure as a launching point for his opinion on front row seats and what he believes is the inherent obligation to remain for the entire game. Somehow, this got back to Stern (and by "somehow," I mean "Van Gundy was probably ratted out by 100,000 people on Twitter within about eight seconds") and Howard went off....
Now, to be clear, I think (THINK) Stern's firing back at Van Gundy is as much bathed in shtick as Van Gundy's initial overreaction to Stern's leaving the game. Howard is generally defiant and if you take a run at him, expect him to pound you over the head with his version of life's scoreboard, which is "I'm the best at what I do. Do you know what it's like to be the best at what you do? Of course you don't. Loser."
And this is exactly what he did with Van Gundy:
"I've been number one many times in my career, Jeff, and let me tell you it takes intense dedication. And Jeff, you've never experienced being number one at anything, but I have, and sometimes it entails leaving fun things early. Jeff Van Gundy, boo f**king hoo, coached all those years and never hit number one, that's why no one's looking for you....I have experienced number one, and you are not in your chosen field. You are what is called a wannabe."
It was kind of funny, standard Howard fare, with the "why don't you tell me to my face" snipe as my personal favorite in the "playground insult" category.
However, I have two major factual issues with Stern's rant.
First, Van Gundy's chosen field right now is as a color analyst, where he actually is widely considered not only the best in basketball, but maybe the best overall. That's the first thing.
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Second thing, if Stern is referring to "Van Gundy the coach," he's way off on "no one looking for [him]." If Van Gundy were to float that he's open to a return to coaching, he'd have a highly paid NBA head coaching job in about five minutes.
For what it's worth, my cohost Rich Lord reached out to Van Gundy via text on Tuesday to come on our show and fire back. Van Gundy wasn't even aware of Stern's comments (not a big surprise, Van Gundy still uses a flip phone, for Pete's sake) and when relayed to him, he thought they were funny.
Now, we all anxiously await Jeff Van Gundy conveying his thoughts on front row seating to Howard Stern's face.