Behind The Scenes

Jeff Van Gundy on Draft Lottery,
LeBron, Heat-Celts and more

NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy

Editor’s note: ESPN will televise the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery during Kia NBA Countdown tonight from 7-8:30 p.m. ET before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Heat and Celtics at 8:30 p.m.

ESPN NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy took some time from his busy NBA Playoffs schedule to join ESPN’s Eastern Conference Finals media call on Tuesday with Hall of Famer Dr. Jack Ramsay.

Van Gundy is providing analysis throughout the Heat-Celtics series — exclusively on ESPN — with play-by-play announcer Mike Breen and reporter Doris Burke.

The outspoken Van Gundy discussed a variety of topics on the call including the Draft Lottery, LeBron James, the Celtics and his own broadcasting style.

To listen to the entire call: Conference Call replay.

Van Gundy on the NBA Draft Lottery system
I don’t think they should be given any extra odds to get the pick for being bad. To get bad in this league is easy. To get good is hard. And I think consistently to reward teams that are bad with higher picks is not right.

Van Gundy on his broadcasting style
I had never thought about broadcasting, because I hadn’t planned on being fired. So I guess getting fired always sort of opens up your options to what you want to do. As far as style, I don’t really have a style. Or at least not planned, other than probably annoying to some. But I just think like ‑‑ I try to say what I see. And I try to be as forthcoming as possible.

Van Gundy on broadcasting challenges
The hardest adjustment is I never realized how sensitive players were. You might say good things 99 percent of the time, and if you say one thing that you would like to see have been done differently, they get quite angry. I was [calling] a game in the playoffs where a player made a basket and he jogged down court, he didn’t look directly at me, but I knew he was looking towards me, and screamed something out I couldn’t share with you for print. But I was amazed, I was like, wow, you know, I say what I see and I didn’t realize how sensitive guys were.

On being No. 2 in Sports Illustrated’s list of NBA players’ favorite analysts
Listen, I’m just happy to have a job. I don’t know about all that. I’m just happy to have a job. And I don’t really get into what people say, if they like you or dislike you. Just like in coaching, you just do the best you can and you live with the results.

Ramsay then weighed in: “I think that’s what makes you good, Jeff. You do it as you see it, and let the chips fall where they may. I think your straightforward commentary is very good for the game.”

On media scrutiny of LeBron James
I’ve always been impressed with James, because to me he’s totally stayed out of any trouble. There’s no trouble between him and his teammates, him and the law, him and anything. Now, would he have liked to play some games differently — maybe last year in the Finals — yes. Tell me any athlete or coach that doesn’t have regrets over how they played or certain moves in a game, but as far as his standard of behavior, I absolutely applaud how he’s conducted himself. I don’t know many young people that could come into this league at 18 and withstand all that scrutiny and do it in such a class manner.

On the Celtics’ future
Listen, to me if you don’t have anybody in free agency that you can target, bringing back Garnett for big money makes complete sense and then go at it again next year to see where you’re at.

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