jeff van gundy bio

Jeff Van Gundy Bio

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The Van Gundy name in basketball may be familiar to most fans. Especially when you’ve heard of names like Jeff Van Gundy. First off, he shouldn’t be confused with Stan Van Gundy, who is the older brother and coach.

Van Gundy spent the last three and a half decades as a basketball coach. Started in the high school ranks before moving up through college and finally landing an NBA coaching job in the mid-1990s.

What’s Jeff Van Gundy up to these days since his last coaching gig ended in 2007? Is he still involved in the game of basketball? We’ll answer those questions shortly.

Let’s dive right into our Jeff Van Gundy Bio and discuss more the coach in detail.

Quick Facts

  • Name: Jeffrey William Van Gundy
  • Birth date: January 19, 1962
  • Nicknames: Jeff
  • Nationality: American
  • Siblings: Stan Van Gundy
  • Wife: Kim Van Gundy
  • Profession: Basketball coach, broadcaster
  • Salary: $18 million (2003)
  • Net Worth: $16 million
  • Social Media: N/A
  • Awards: 2000 NBA All-Star Game Head Coach

Early Life

jeff

Jeff Van Gundy was born in Hemet, California on January 19, 1962. He is the younger brother of Stan Van Gundy. Their father was Bill Van Gundy, who was a basketball coach in his own right.

Bill Van Gundy coached basketball at SUNY Brockport and Genesee Community College in upstate New York. As young kids, the Van Gundy brothers would often tag along with their father while he ran basketball practices with the teams he had coached over the years.

This may have sparked an interest in basketball in both Van Gundy brothers. Jeff would play high school basketball at Brockport Central High School as a point guard. He was named to the All-Greater Rochester team in 1979 and 1980.

He also led the school to the Class AA finals in both years. After high school, Van Gundy went on to play basketball at Nazareth College in Pittsford, New York. Prior to that, he played at two different college programs, Menlo College and SUNY Brockport.

He also attended Yale University as a student but did not play basketball. During his time at the Ivy League school, he was classmates with actress Jodie Foster. On an appearance of ‘The Dave Pasch Podcast’, Van Gundy told a story about how he tried to make a first impression with the actress.

The two met at a popcorn shop and struck up a brief conversation. However, he ‘chickened out’ as Van Gundy put it. As it would turn out, Van Gundy was one of a dozen Yale freshmen trying to ‘shoot their shot’.

They each put in $100 in a pot with the winner walking away with nearly $1200 if they successfully landed a date. In a 2019 interview with Rich Eisen, Foster was asked about the encounter. The actress said she had no recollection of who Van Gundy was.

Professional Career

After graduating from Nazareth College in 1985, Van Gundy started his coaching career in Rochester, New York. He became the head coach of the McQuaid Jesuit High School Knights basketball team for the 1985-86 season.

A year later, he joined the Providence Friars Men’s Basketball team as a graduate assistant. The head coach at the time was Rick Pitino. Van Gundy helped coach the Friars to a Final Four appearance in 1987.

The Friars lost to the Syracuse Orangemen and put an end to their national championship run. In the following year, he was promoted to assistant coach when new head coach Gordon Chisea took over the program.

Van Gundy then accepted an assistant coaching job for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. He would stay on the team until 1989 when he joined the New York Knicks as an assistant coach.

New York Knicks

ny knicks

Van Gundy snagged his first assistant coaching job in the NBA under Stu Jackson at the beginning of the 1989 season. He served under four different head coaches as an assistant including Pat Riley, who he served under the longest from 1991 to 1995. The other coaches had not lasted beyond a single season.

As an assistant, Van Gundy helped lead the Knicks to three Atlantic Division titles and made the playoffs every year since his tenure. They made appearances in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1993, but would make the NBA Finals in 1994 eventually losing to the Houston Rockets.

In 1996, Van Gundy took over as the head coach of the Knicks midway through the 1995-1996 season. In his second ever game as coach, the Knicks defeated Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls by 32 points. It seemed like a seminal moment for Van Gundy as the Bulls were responsible for eliminating the Knicks from the playoffs since his days as an assistant coach.

During the 1996 offseason, it was said that Michael Jordan was a target to sign with the Knicks. However, he eventually stayed with the Bulls for another season. Recently, Jordan said that Phil Jackson was a coach that was everything to him.

He also added that he wasn’t sure what kind of coach Jeff Van Gundy was going to be to him. Jordan’s willingness to work with Phil Jackson for another season landed him a $30 million deal to play one year with the Bulls.

Spurning Van Gundy for Jackson was a sign that Jordan was loyal to Phil Jackson. He stated that if there was no Jackson as coach, he wouldn’t play. Some sports experts said that had Phil Jackson coached the Knicks, that would have brought His Airness to the Big Apple.

But there also seems to be a bit of beef between Jordan and Van Gundy. We’ll dive into that more later on.

The following season after missing out on signing Jordan, the Knicks finished the 1996-97 season with a record of 57-25. It was the third best record in the team’s history. The Knicks once again beat the Bulls in the final game of the regular season, denying the latter’s chance to enjoy a back to back season where they finished with 70 wins.

The following year, the team made the playoffs where they faced off against the Miami Head in one series. During one game, Alonzo Mourning of the Heat and Larry Johnson of the Knicks both engaged in a brawl that caused both benches to clear out.

While the former Hornets teammates were duking it out, Van Gundy tried to separate the both of them. Van Gundy failed to end the fight and at one point fell to the floor and was hanging on to Mourning’s leg. Ultimately, the Knicks defeated the Heat in the series three games to two.

They faced off against the Indiana Pacers in the semi-finals of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The following year, the season was shortened due to a lockout. The season was limited to 50 games.

The Knicks finished 27-23 despite losing many of their players to injury including Patrick Ewing. They made the playoffs once again where they faced off against the Miami Heat and eventually defeated them in the first round. They were the eighth seed and eliminated the top seeded team.

They continued their momentum in the playoffs by sweeping the Atlanta Hawks in the semifinal round, and then eliminating the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals. They became the first eighth seeded team in the history of the NBA to reach the finals.

They lost to the San Antonio Spurs in five games. The following year, they finished 50-32 with their eyes on a return to the Finals. They returned to the Eastern Conference finals where they faced off with the Pacers, ultimately losing to them.

During the 2000-01 season, Van Gundy was a victim of an accidental hit to the face when he once again attempted to break up a fight. This time, Marcus Camby was involved in an altercation with Danny Ferry when the Knicks were playing the Spurs.

Camby intended to punch Ferry, but missed and hit Van Gundy instead. Nonetheless, the team made the playoffs again but were eliminated in the first round by the Toronto Raptors.

Van Gundy left the Knicks when they were 19 games into the 2001-02 season. Van Gundy’s resignation came as a shock as the team was in the midst of a hot streak and a victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in his last game with the team.

Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets

Over a year after his sudden resignation from the Knicks, Van Gundy was hired as the head coach of the Houston Rockets. In his first year, the team finished the season at 45-37 and made their first playoff appearance in nearly a half decade.

The team faced off against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round but were eliminated. The following year, the team was powered by the duo of 2002 first-round pick Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. The team finished the season with a record of 51-31.

The season became the first in almost a decade where they won 50 or more games. Despite making the playoffs, they were eliminated in the first round once again by their in-state rivals, the Dallas Mavericks.

Both McGrady and Yao suffered injuries and missed a total of 70 games during the 2005-06 season. While McGrady didn’t recover from his injuries during the season, Yao only played 48 games. Despite being banged up, McGrady led the team towards the latter end of the season.

The team made the playoffs but were once again eliminated in the first round by the Utah Jazz. Van Gundy was fined $100,000 by the NBA after he accused referees of targeting Yao Ming. He also placed blame on Mark Cuban for creating a bias for referees to call the game in their favor.

After their exit from the playoffs, the Rockets and Van Gundy had parted ways. The 2006-07 season was the last time Van Gundy had coached in the NBA.

He would not coach again until he was named the coach for the USA men’s national basketball team for the FIBA AmeriCup tournament. He also coached the team in the qualifying round in 2019 of the FIBA World Cup in China.

During both tenures, the national team was successful in winning the AmeriCup and qualifying for the FIBA World Cup. At the end of his coaching career, Van Gundy finished with a 430-318 overall record. He has never won an NBA championship.

Post Career

ESPN

After his dismissal from the Houston Rockets, Van Gundy joined ESPN as a guest analyst. He made his broadcasting debut when the San Antonio Spurs played the Phoenix Suns. Since then, he’s been in the broadcasting lineup for ESPN.

As of today, he serves as a color commentator alongside Mike Breen and Mark Jackson, who both due play by play during the regular season and the playoffs. He is in his 15th season with ESPN as a broadcaster.

Some critics of Van Gundy called him a curmudgeon in terms of his broadcasting personality. However, his positive critics have called him honest and genuine. His delivery is often described as ‘frank’.

He stated that if he were to plan his retirement, he would want his last broadcast to be a Manning-style TV appearance. Specifically, he’s referring to Peyton Manning. He’d call it ‘The NBA on ESPN: The Entire Truth’.

Van Gundy has often suggested changes to the way the NBA plays games. Specifically, he said that halftime should be modified greatly or perhaps shortened. He says that the idea is to reduce the number of play stoppages per game.

Specifically, he said that he wants NBA games to get a lot of action in the span of a two hour time frame.

In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate degree from Nazareth College.

He also became an executive board member for Pro-Vision Academy, which is a charter school located in Houston. The school provides mentoring services and education and job training to students ages 10 to 18.

It is believed that Jeff Van Gundy and Michael Jordan seem to be at odds with each other. At one point, Jordan claims to have heard from Ahmad Rashad that Van Gundy called him a ‘con-man’.

This may have added fuel to the fire of a long-standing rivalry the Knicks had with the Bulls back in the late 1990s when the latter asserted their dominance in the NBA. Jordan claimed that he took the words of Van Gundy personally.

Allegedly, Van Gundy said that ‘Michael Jordan was a con-man. He’ll act like a friend and then kill you’. Specifically, the words implied that Michael Jordan was actually faking his friendships with players he’s played with or against in the NBA.

Van Gundy currently lives in Houston. He said that Houston was a good home base as it made travel on either the west or east coast a lot easier aside from his busy schedule. He has also been fulfilling interview requests be it for TV, radio, or even podcasts.

Whether he’s on-camera or off-camera, Jeff Van Gundy is certainly keeping himself business. Yes, he’s even still doing some coaching on the side as well.

Family and Relationships

stan

Jeff Van Gundy is the son of Bill and Cindy Van Gundy. He has one older brother, Stan, who in his own right coached in the NBA before becoming a front office executive for the Detroit Pistons.

He is currently married to Kim Van Gundy and has two children, Grayson and Mattie. He currently lives in Houston.

Net Worth and Salary

Jeff Van Gundy’s estimated salary was approximately $18 million when he signed his contract to become the Head Coach of the Houston Rockets. His net worth is estimated at around $16 million. This may be due to the income he accrued as a head coach as well as a broadcaster for ESPN.

Memorable Quotes

“To be successful in anything, you have to have a passion for it. That leads you to being enthusiastic and demanding.”

“Every team has leadership. The leadership is the best players. But there is positive leadership and there is negative leadership.”

“I think everyone talks about talent. It’s really one of the most overused terms. Talent is one factor, but it certainly isn’t the only one.”

“Most elite big men are high maintenance.”

“The beauty of growing up in a coaching family is you get to be in the gym. That’s where you grow up.”

FAQ

Question: Are Jeff and Stan Van Gundy related?

Answer: Yes, Jeff and Stan Van Gundy are brothers. Stan Van Gundy has previously served as the head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans. He also served as an executive for the Detroit Pistons. Like his brother, Stan Van Gundy currently does broadcasts for TNT during the NBA season.

Question: Why did Jeff Van Gundy leave the Knicks?

Answer: The reasons were unknown at the time. But it was later discovered that Van Gundy was at odds with ownership over many issues. He said that he should have waited until the end of the season.

Question: Is Jeff Van Gundy coaching the US Olympic Basketball Team?

Answer: Having coached a national team for two global basketball events, Van Gundy is not the coach for the USA Olympic basketball team. However, he was brought on as a scout by coach Gregg Popovich.

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