Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle slammed ESPN for publishing LaVar Ball’s criticism of Lakers coach Luke Walton.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is going a step further.
Van Gundy, via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
“I thought it was a cheap shot and I thought ESPN showed total disrespect,” Van Gundy said Monday at Smoothie King Center, where the Pistons will face the New Orleans Pelicans later in the day.
“I don’t have a problem with LaVar Ball. He’s a grown man. He can voice whatever opinion he wants. I got a problem with ESPN deciding that’s a story.”
ESPN will televise the Jan. 19 matchup with the Pistons and Washington Wizards.
“I’m not meeting with their announcing crew before the game, I’m not doing the in-game interview,” Van Gundy said. “I’m not going to participate in the thing.”
When pressed if it means he’s threatening to withhold access, Van Gundy said: “I’m not denying them access. I’m not kicking them out of press conferences. They want extra stuff from us and they’re going to treat an NBA coach with that little respect? Then I’m going to choose not to give them extra access”
A player’s parent saying his son’s coach has lost the team is newsworthy. In one respect, it’s less so with LaVar, who says outlandish things for attention. But in another way, it’s more so with LaVar, because he seemingly takes such an active role in Lonzo Ball‘s career.
ESPN gets extra access – like in-game interviews – because it pays the NBA billions of dollars to televise games. The league is rightfully protective of that TV money, which is why Van Gundy risks a fine if he doesn’t cooperate with ESPN.
And it won’t stop ESPN from covering LaVar, who generates interest.
This is a bad battle to pick and a poor way to wage it.