Stan Van Gundy was fined $25,000 for saying during an in-game interview: “A couple calls have upset our guys. They’ve got to understand, LeBron’s LeBron. They’re not going to call offensive fouls on him. He gets to do whatever he wants. They’ve got to understand that.”
I didn’t think the NBA should’ve fined Van Gundy. His wording gives plausible deniability that he was talking only about the mindset his players should adopt, not criticizing the refs. He even went out of his way after the game to say officiating wasn’t a problem.
But Van Gundy was a little more accepting of the fine.
Van Gundy, via Aaron McCann of MLive:
“I probably deserve to be penalized for being myself,” Van Gundy said.
“That’s a lot of money. That’s not a slap on the wrist,” Van Gundy said. “A slap on the wrist would have been a reprimand. Putting a reprimand or letter of censure in my file. No, this was a punishment.
“It goes to charity, which is good. I support most charitable organizations. I don’t know which one I just supported, but I’m happy to do it.”
Van Gundy probably knows what he’s doing. He’s been through the playoffs before.
By bringing attention to the calls LeBron James gets and getting fined, Van Gundy accomplishes a couple things:
1. It might have referees second-guessing their handling of LeBron.
2. It allows Pistons players to focus on defending rather than officiating, because they know their coach has their back on the latter front.
I’m not convinced Van Gundy set out to get fined when he began that interview, but if it causes referees to take a second look at LeBron plays and his players to focus on playing rather than arguing, it’d pay off.
This is Van Gundy – willing to speak his mind and take the heat. Sometimes, that comes with a fine, and he seems OK with that consequence. The upside could also be high.