CLEVELAND, Ohio — There’s no mistaking how ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy feels about the current NBA practice of resting star players during regular-season games. But just in case you need proof of Van Gundy’s discontent, Saturday’s Cavaliers vs. Clippers broadcast should serve as a primer.
Van Gundy, who also spent parts of last week’s Golden State vs. San Antonio ABC primetime game decrying All-Stars missing games to rest, complained throughout the broadcast about the Cavaliers resting LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving during Saturday’s first game of a back-to-back in Los Angeles.
Van Gundy logged 23 different remarks, quips or complaints about the game, a 30-point rout by the Clippers, as Cleveland started three reserves.
His broadcast partners, Mark Jackson and Mike Breen, served up their share of complaints as well. But it was Van Gundy who pulled no punches with his criticism.
As the game got out of hand in the fourth quarter, the crew’s criticism dominated the telecast, eventually devolving into a discussion of favorite movie quotes and praising deceased rock and roll legend Chuck Berry.
Here’s everything Van Gundy had to say on the subject of the Cavaliers resting their Big 3 during the ABC broadcast on Saturday:
1. If this was any other business, it would be a prosecutable offense — this type of bait-and-switch maneuver that the NBA allows its teams to pull.
2. If you look at the athletic performance teams, these groups that are supposedly preventing injury, when I look at the Cleveland Cavaliers, they’ve been injured all year, so how good are they doing at what they say the can accomplish?
3. It never happened. (In response to whether he faced teams that sat their star players when he coached).
4. These guys really know how to take a break. (After James appeared on the bench with a coffee cup).
5. We don’t even have to try and fake it anymore. We should have a lounge chair for those guys.
6. Beyond the fans, just business-wise. Think about it. ABC and the Disney Corporation paid $1.2 billion for this “partnership.” A partnership is about equality. There’s no equality in this. We just get what they serve up.
7. I just don’t understand why they didn’t play tonight. If they’re all going to rest, why it wouldn’t have been against the Lakers who are not putting out their best lineup to try to win right now anyway?
8. We called them soft. (When players sat out back in the day)
9. I don’t think they should have gotten up. Those three are hurt. Rest. (When James, Korver and Irving jumped up to celebrate a Jefferson dunk).
10. James Harden and Westbrook play every night that they’re healthy. There’s
no resting. They must have different Athletic Performance Teams because those guys play big minutes, play all-out.
11. You don’t really know whether teams are covering for players who want a night off and are saying ‘we didn’t give him a choice.’ You don’t really know unless you’re in that locker room.
12. Every player now works out like a phenom. They love to work out. I’m not so sure all the time how much every player loves to compete in the actual game and go after each other.
13. (After Mike Breen suggested the players be required to interact with fans when they sit out) That implies that they do care. We don’t know that. How about just play. If you want to show that you care to the fans, just play the game. When you’re healthy, play.
14. We could play once a month and people would be taking a day off. The reason the salaries are so high is because it is a hard job. The job is strenuous and demanding and taxing. That’s why you make big money.
15. (Regarding Tristan Thompson’s games played streak) So which is it. The player’s in charge? If he refuses to rest, that means the other guys could refuse to rest, too. But then you’re told that it’s the Athletic Performance Team who’s demanding that they sit out.
16. But I thought it was all about doing what’s right for the Cleveland fans and their playoff push. That’s what confuses me. All the mixed messages about who’s in charge and how the decisions were made.
17. It’s not ‘old-school.’ What school are you in where you don’t show up to work?
18. It’s bait-and-switch. It would not be tolerated in any other business. You can’t sugar coat it. You advertise one thing and then you deliver a different product.
19. There’s a difference between being disappointed because someone’s injured, and being ripped off. They’re getting ripped off here tonight.
20. (When Jackson paused to remember Chuck Berry) You don’t have to apologize for interrupting this game. You could take 48 minutes.
21. This game stinks.
22. This would have to be one of the 10 worst regular-season games this year. I wonder what the other nine are? Where people have sat people out and it’s just been an awful game.
23. (To Breen) You acted here tonight. You tried to make this sound good.
It’s also worth noting these gems from Van Gundy during the broadcast:
* He thinks the NBA should offer a point and a half to shooters who attempt free throws from beyond the 3-point arc.
* He’s never seen the classic 1985 blockbuster film “Back to the Future,” because he’s “not a sci-fi guy.”
* His favorite line from “A Few Good Men” isn’t even the iconic Jack Nicholson line “You can’t handle the truth.”
* He’s never read Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.”