I’m pretty sure we’ve got a bonafide war of words on our hands. Stan Van Gundy responded Saturday to Pat Riley’s comments about himself and Magic GM Otis Smith and their criticism of the Heat. In an interview with the Magic’s website, Van Gundy laughed at what he considers to me a double-standard with Riley.
“Pat getting onto people for making moral judgments made me laugh,” Van Gundy continued. “I was with Pat when we had all of those Knicks series and he had no problem making moral judgments on my brother. What I read into that was that I guess Pat is the only one allowed to make those moral judgments and the rest of us can’t do that. I guess we didn’t realize that Pat’s the only allowed to do that.”
Oh, that SVG. Such a jokester. Zings aplenty from that man. But that wasn’t all. Van Gundy outright laughed in Riley’s face about saying he doesn’t pay attention to the criticism, saying that in a press conference he called to talk about… the criticism:
“He goes into Charles Barkley, me and Otis and then says he doesn’t worry about what people say. Wait, you called the press conference, you went off and everybody and you don’t care what people say? Clearly, he cares a great deal about what people say. I was laughing when I saw that.”
Do you hear that, Pat Riley? He was laughing! Like Santa Clau…nevermind.
So who’s on target here? Well, the answer is both. The criticism against the Heat has been more than a little ridiculous, considering they’ve broken no laws, and done nothing that a vast majority of people would do: choose to work with their friends in a tax-free state with a higher professional ceiling. “The Decision” aside, most of the comments have been purposely inflammatory.
But SVG has a point that Riley hasn’t exactly been squeaky clean throughout his career and calling the presser certainly doesn’t look like he ignores the press. Expect a lot more of this this type of side-mouth work from both the Heat and their critics this season. The new reality in the NBA is going to take some time to adjust to.